AVONDALE — It’s time to lace up your bowling shoes, Avondale.
Avondale Bowl, the new bowling alley taking over the long-vacant Northwest Bowl at 3118 N. Milwaukee Ave., is finally opening Jan. 13 after two years of renovations, the owners announced Friday.
The new bowling alley has a decidedly retro feel with just eight lanes of bowling and hand scoring.
The owners worked for months to bring Northwest Bowl back to its former glory, restoring the original pin setters, ball returns, wood lanes and mahogany bar rail.
They were even able to salvage some of the original Northwest Bowl bowling balls, which were collecting dust when they took over the building. Some of the balls have “Northwest” and players’ names etched in them.
“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,” co-owner Luke Blahnik told Block Club in February.
The three owners also spent a considerable amount of time injecting new life into the space, which had sat vacant for so long that it had to be gutted. Ryan Duggan, a local screen printer with a cult following, made the scorecards and all of the branding materials.
To start, Avondale Bowl will only offer a simple cocktail menu ($10-12) and a rotating selection of draft beer.
Tony Correale, the former bar manager at Longman & Eagle, is managing the bar program. Correale’s cocktail menu is a nod to Chicago bowling alleys of the 1970s and ’80s with drinks like a Tequila Sunrise, an Amaretto Sour, a Between the Sheets and a frozen, dairy-free White Russian.
The business is operating under a tavern license, which means kids under 21 must be accompanied by an adult, but co-owner Jeff Wilson stressed that families are welcome.
“We have ramps, blow-up bumpers. We have all of the things to make this a comfortable space for kids, but kids aren’t going to be able to come in by themselves,” he said.
For now, the owners are focusing on the drink menu and, of course, bowling, but eventually they’re hoping to partner with a restaurant on a food menu. For the time being, they’ll be serving bar snacks like pretzels and chex mix.
For the first month, Avondale Bowl will be walk-in only. But starting in February, folks will be able to reserve a lane online via Tock. Bowling leagues also won’t start for another month.
Shoes cost $3. Games cost $25 per hour during the week and $35 per hour on the weekends, though there will be early bird specials.
Northwest Bowl closed in the early 1990s. It’s unclear how long the bowling alley lasted, but Blahnik estimates it opened sometime in the 1950s based on conversations with neighbors.
Wilson said he and his business partners are “very very excited” to carry on the old bowling alley’s legacy.
“A lot of blood, sweat and tears went into this place,” he said.
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