Owners of Twain’s purchase Suburban Lanes Bowling AlleyBowler Regina Mansfield came to Suburban Lanes the final day before the bowling alley closed. Photo by Dena Mellick
This story has been updated.
By Dena Mellick, Associate editor
Suburban Lanes Bowling Alley, once in danger of closing permanently, has been sold to new owners.
What’s more, those owners are quite familiar with doing business in Decatur.
Ethan and Uri Wurtzel and General Manager Ben Horgan own Twain’s Brewpub & Billiards. They announced on the pub’s website that they have acquired Suburban Lanes.
The announcement, entitled “Twain’s is going bowling,” says the remodeled bowling alley will reopen in the fall. It goes on to say, “The bowling alley has been a longstanding fixture in Decatur and we look forward to carrying it into the next phase of its history as a funky bowling center that recreational bowlers and league enthusiasts will love.”
Decaturish asked Uri Wurtzel how the purchase came about.
“We heard and we read Decaturish as part of that, your stories about how the Walkers were looking at the end of their lease and were hoping to find a buyer for it. It was at the time when we had been exploring some other opportunities in terms of opening up another place,” Wurtzel said.
“The more we thought about it, the more it made sense as something that shares a lot with our current establishment. With Twain’s, it’s kind of a place to hang out, there’s more to do than just have some food and drink. We just started running with it and exploring the idea, and here we are.”
Thomas Walker Jr., and his wife Trisha, owned Suburban Lanes, but lost their lease during the Suburban Plaza renovations. They petitioned for the bowling alley to stay in Suburban Lanes and had been looking for a buyer.
The bowling alley closed earlier this month, and the Walkers said at that point that there was an interested party, but nothing had been finalized.
The Walkers’ attorney also confirmed Thursday that the bowling alley had been sold.
Wurtzel said that he and his partners have purchased all of the existing bowling equipment.
He also said the bowling alley will get a new name, but one has not been decided upon.
The website announcement said the new bowling alley will “offer a vibrant food and beverage program featuring craft beers, a full bar, hand tossed pizza, burgers and plates designed for sharing. As at Twain’s we will be committed to using locally sourced goods whenever it’s possible.”
Wurtzel said, “In terms of food, one major difference between Twain’s and the bowling alley will be is that we’re going to feature hand-tossed pizza. That seems to be something that goes along well with the bowling crowd and for parties.”
He said they are just finishing up architectural plans which will include building out a full kitchen and bar. But there will still be space for other games, including “a billiards table or two,” Wurtzel said.
Wurtzel also said his team has been in touch with the many bowling leagues that had a home in Suburban Lanes, including several senior leagues. “It makes a lot of sense for us to keep those leagues,” he said.
Additionally, there are plans to see if former employees will return to the new bowling alley.
“It’s been closed for a month, and we’re not sure if everyone who worked there before will still be interested and available, but we are pursuing that because they know the place,” said Wurtzel.
The redevelopment of Suburban Plaza by Selig Enterprises had a rocky start with community groups fighting the proposed Walmart, but eventually backing down.
The Walmart is now well under way, and Bill Stogner, Senior Vice President with Selig Enterprises, said it will open this fall. Stogner said other anchor tenants include Ross, Home Goods, Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores, and LA Fitness.
Other businesses are expected to open in early 2016.