Serra Bowl general manager Mike Leong sounded distraught on the phone today. "It's like somebody's great-grandfather died," he said. After 51 years of operation, his Daly City bowling alley is losing its lease and will have to close its doors by April 15.
Leong said that the bowling alley has been trying to contact its landlord for months to ascertain whether it would be able to renew its lease. "He kept telling us he wasn't at liberty to tell us whether he was going to lease us the property or not. It got within seven weeks of when the lease was up and we flat out asked him if we should start telling our customers if we're closing. And he said, 'that's up to you.'"
The landlord eventually went on to tell Serra Bowl staff that the business had to move out entirely by April 15, which means that the over 1,500 bowlers who compete in its over 20 leagues won't even have the chance to close out their season. The landlord refused the alley's request for two more weeks so that the leagues could finish out. Sorry gang, but money apparently talks when it comes to this piece of real estate located adjacent to the Colma BART station -- the extension was refused.
The news broke officially on Friday, Leong says, but the announcement was made on Serra Bowl's Facebook page last night. Reactions were swift, and sad sad sad. "Sad sad sad... Back in the day, this was one of the stops in my junior bowling traveling league... All gone... Westlake, Castle, Broadway, Downtown, Marina, and Serra... Only one left is Sea Bowl :( " said one veteran bowler. "If there is anything that can be done I am sure the people that bowl at Serra would do anything we can," said another.
This, my friends, is a big blow. Sure, there's always Presidio Bowl and the Yerba Buena Center's alley -- and Mission Bowling Club will open its boutique lanes on 17th Street and Shotwell this spring (sign up now if you're hoping to get on the waiting list for those pins) -- but Serra Bowl was one of the last remaining classic alleys, where you washed your hands after games and you could score a White Russian at the bar to go with your basket of fries from the snack shack. Or, you know, bring the kids and find parking real easy, depending on your bag.
So will Serra be fighting to keep itself out of the gutter? "“there are no plans because it's private property and there's nothing that we could do," says Leong, resignedly. "We feel like we've done everything we could do. Obviously it's not good enough for him.” Him being the landlord. LANDLORDS, argh.
Leong did say that the alley will be actively searching for a new location once this initial period of shock has subsided, that the community is rallying hard behind the alley, and that in all likelihood there will be a goodbye blow-out.
Who's down for one last jaunt to Daly City and a pitcher of Miller High Life or five? Call me.