At Ten Pin Alley, chef gets free rein in the kitchen
Photo by Tessa Berg
Six years ago, Sarah and Brent Garland had a vision to create a boutique-style entertainment center with equal emphasis placed on bowling, food and beverages. They purchased Hilliard’s Northwest Lanes, and after renovations they’ve got a posh palace of strikes that could inspire hundreds of retro Instagram-style images—all without the filters. Hip bowling atmosphere? Check. But Ten Pin Alley needed someone to take over the food and beverage side of things.
That’s when Andy Shelley saw the Craigslist ad. With a degree in food service and restaurant management, and experience at Bexley’s Monk, the DoubleTree and Monaco’s Catering, Shelley was just what the Garlands needed. His job? Turn the “freezer to fryer” fare previously found at the bowling alley into something that would turn heads.
“When I first started, I worked off of a pizza oven, deep fryer and college dorm room-style hot pads,” says Shelley, who helped design a kitchen that would enable such dishes as Brussels sprouts with bacon aioli, pulled pork paninis and a grilled chicken salad. It wasn’t long before Shelley was promoted to general manager and executive chef.
“We’re still a bowling alley and people expect bowling alley-esque food, but we do a little more,” he explains. “We take familiar items and elevate them. Our potato skins have duck, bacon and gouda cheese. A lot of folks don’t expect to find this at a bowling alley. We never get tired of [surprising people], because it’s what we strive to do. We’ve set out to change perception.”
It’s not just the food selections that make the place stand out. Locavores who love to get their bowl on will be pleased to see that the bar carries a variety of local libations, including Middle West Spirits, Watershed and, on draft, Elevator Brewery’s Procrastinator Doppelbock. (Shelley calls the latter the bar’s “fourth bestselling draft beer,” beating out Stella Artois on the line.)
Oh, and don’t forget dessert. Winning teams can celebrate with mini pints of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams.
“[Local is] about philosophy,” says Shelley. “We’re a small business, and they’re small businesses. They make good product. Good food is good food is good food. Good drink is good drink, good beer is good beer. We think that people will appreciate these options.”
Shelley is more comfortable in the kitchen than on the lanes. Bowling, it seems, is not his forte.
“I am not good at it,” he says. “I’m lucky to break 100.”