From Bowling Lanes To Entertainment
After sustaining damage from multiple floods in 12 years, Belvedere Lanes on Walnut Street in Nicholson hit the reset button. Owner Allen Loch’s grandfather opened the bowling alley in 1960, but now Loch is clearing out the lanes because replacing them would be too costly. Belvedere Lanes is now Belvedere Entertainment Center, with pool tables, indoor corn hole, darts, a golf simulator, air hockey, indoor mini golf, foosball, shuffleboard and card tables. A bar within the entertainment center also offers a food menu. Loch said the bowling alley flooded in 2006, then again in 2011, and twice in 2018. “We actually took on water in January and the creek backed up out here with ice, then we got a bad flood in August again,” he said. Everything was destroyed and Loch said replacing the electronic bowling equipment would cost around $300,000. “I literally get my head above water and back under I go,” he said. The bank required flood insurance for the bowling alley after 2006, and the price for insurance has tripled since then, adding another large expense. Robin Griffin has been bartending at Belvedere for more than four years. During her time, she has seen the devastating flood damage firsthand. “The lanes were buckled up almost to the ceiling and there was water all the way up into this bar,” she said. “That’s a lot of water.” Griffin said it was difficult to see the business go through so much turmoil and hard on her since it put her out of work for some time. But to her, converting the bowling alley to an entertainment center was a good move overall for the Belvedere business. “Losing the bowling alley was heartbreaking because it’s been here so long,” she said. “There’s nothing like this around the area and it gives the kids something to do, and adults.” Business has been picking up since Belvedere Entertainment Center opened, Griffin said, and she also has more peace of mind knowing that with future floods, the effects won’t be nearly as disastrous since the equipment can be moved. Loch said taking bowling out of the mix was an awful decision to make, and he still feels upset some days coming into work, as the bowling alley has a lot of history. But after recovering from flooding three times, he knew it had to be done. “Unfortunately, until they do something with these creeks, it’s not a matter of if it’s going to happen again, it’s when,” he said. Loch said he feels nervous about revamping the business, but has been seeing a lot of old patrons coming back, plus some new faces. Having the entertainment center will also offer some fun activities in an area where people feel there isn’t much to do, he said. Putting the mini golf course in last week will also allow for a kid-oriented activity, and give him an opportunity to offer birthday parties similar to the ones available when it was a bowling alley. “There’s a little bit of something for everybody,” he said.