Bar: Grove City Lanes

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

The ball makes a sweet, deep rolling sound as it speeds down the wooden planks and into the pins at Grove City Lanes.

Opened in 1952 in one of the town's quaint storefronts, the eight-lane alley still uses real wood, not that synthetic stuff most places switched to years ago. Pins are set by an AMF machine built in 1948, and balls are sent back above ground by a Brunswick model with shiny chrome accents and a switch-on hand-dryer.

If you're looking to cap this weekend's Lebowski Fest with a vintage bowling experience, make this your first stop. Its worn-in appeal basks in the golden era of what once was America's indoor pastime.

"They were going to shut it down completely if someone didn't buy it," said J.R. Rucker, who bought the business in March with friend Archie Mills. "It's been a bowling alley since the 1950s. We had to preserve it for the community."

Other alleys have added everything from high-def displays to neon lights, but Rucker thinks that people like the place the way they remember it. He plans to fix up the hardware and find ways to woo customers from big-budget competitors down the road.

"We don't have big plans to rip out the wood and put in five or six plasma-screen TVs," Rucker explained. "I talk to people all the time who say, 'I used to bowl there!'"

Like most time capsules, bowling's version of Studio 35 has its highs and lows.

On one hand, the balls are nicked, and scoring consoles likely would struggle to handle a game of Pong. Mine was humming and warm to the touch by the second game.

Yet there's a full bar, with very cold beer running around $2 a bottle. For most of the week, games cost less than $3.

And if your pins get stuck, Rucker will hustle on back and free them for you.

Grove City Lanes

3940 Broadway, Grove City


Up Your Alley

Grove City Lanes offers a vintage bowling experience, complete with antique machinery and some of the cheapest games in town. Here's a rundown of the weekly specials.

Sunday: $2 games

Monday: $1 games

Tuesday: $3.50 for two games

Wednesday: $5 for two games

Thursday: Ladies bowl for free from 5-10 p.m., live music from Jimmy Razor at 7 p.m., $1.75 domestic bottles

Friday: $10 unlimited bowling from 10 p.m.-1 a.m.

Saturday: $10 unlimited bowling from 10 p.m.-1 a.m.