AVONDALE — A pair of business partners are teaming up to bring the old Northwest Bowl on Milwaukee Avenue back to its former glory.
The reimagined bowling alley and social club, simply named Avondale Bowl, will call the second floor of the old Wally’s grocer and deli building at 3118 N. Milwaukee Ave. home. The business partners — a real estate broker and the former manager of Longman & Eagle — are aiming for a spring opening pending licensing and inspections.
Avondale Bowl will offer eight lanes of bowling and hand scoring, just like Northwest Bowl did, with a simple drink menu, according to Luke Blahnik, one of the two business partners.
Blahnik, a broker with @properties, tapped Jeff Wilson, current general manager of Forest Park restaurant The Heritage, to serve as his operational partner. Wilson used to manage Longman & Eagle in Logan Square.
The two are committed to restoring the bowling alley’s original details, while also injecting new life into a space that has sat empty for years.
The original pin setters and wood lanes will be restored, as will random old artifacts such as a large hand-painted Monarch Beer sign. The project, Blahnik said, is a “complete restoration of everything we could save.”
Decor-wise, Blahnik said to expect “our version of a Wes Anderson film,” meaning “a lot of fabric, color and cozy furniture.”
Blahnik and Wilson have enlisted Ryan Duggan, a local screen printer with a cult following, to make the scorecards and all branding materials.
Blahnik, who recently bought the building, is hoping to bring in a new restaurant on the ground floor with the goal of it eventually taking over the food menu at Avondale Bowl. If that doesn’t happen in time for the opening, Blahnik said they might have a food truck park outside of the building.
Northwest Bowl closed sometime in the early 1990s after several decades of business, according to Blahnik.
It’s unclear exactly when Northwest Bowl opened; Blahnik estimates the bowling alley made its debut sometime in the 1950s based on conversations with neighbors.
Blahnik said he started renting the space nearly four years ago, but was waiting until he found the right partners — and raised enough money — to get the project off the ground.
“I signed a long-term lease to rent it on the spot because I knew I had to protect and do something with it someday,” said Blahnik, who has lived in Logan Square since 2006.
Blahnik said he’s thrilled to finally be in a position where he can open the bowling alley.
“It’s been a long time coming,” he said. “There’s been no care that has been given to the space for a long time. The way I looked at it was I needed to bring it back so the community could enjoy it again.”
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