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At The Garage, Bowlero hopes to keep the ‘vibe’ without throwing a Capitol Hill gutter ball on ‘authenticity’

In the midst of a West Coast expansion, the folks at the New York City-based Bowlero company want you to know this about its plans for Capitol Hill bowling alley and pool hall The Garage:

“The core is that we’re going to keep that vibe, keep the authenticity,” Bowlero spokesperson Colie Edison tells CHS, confirming our report last week that the AMF family of bowling focused companies was taking over the 1996-founded Broadway bowling alley from its founding ownership with plans for an overhaul that will update the bowling center with an arcade and bar and food service.

Edison said no name change is planned for the venue and that while the currently 21and over bar setting for the Garage will likely give away to an all ages setup, she still expects times when the 1130 Broadway hangout will be adults only for nightlife hours.

The sale is not necessarily a time for congratulations for longtime owner Mike Bitondo. He and business partner Alex Rosenast founded the Garage two decades ago after a chance run-in with the property’s owner at a Mariner’s game. Three years ago, Bitondo bought his partner out so he could spend more time with family and away from the day to day grind of owning a business.

Now Bitondo is also ready to step away.

The tables won’t be going away, Bowlero says

“I’ve been with Garage since it started — 24 years — about half my life. Health reasons are part of it — it kinda takes toll. I’m trying to get healthy.”

“A lot of people want to say congratulations,” he says, “but it’s bittersweet. It’s not the end of me working in the industry.”

The founding duo will also continue a relationship with the new bowling alley owners — Rosenast owns the building.

With the realities of breaking the news to staff and dealing with the logistics of selling a business that is still open and operating, Bitondo said he wasn’t ready to try to answer big questions about the whole thing.

“I don’t know if there are answers to those questions,” he said.

But the fun times from the past two decades won’t fade and Bowlero seems committed to keeping the spirit of the Garage in place through the sale and into the venue’s new life. The place might be cleaned up a bit but there will be some grit left behind. Yes, the Garage will be keeping its pool tables.

Bowlero’s Edison said that the planned arcade area won’t be replacing the Garage’s popular tables though you might expect a little less felt as a few pool tables may need to be removed.

The goal for Bowlero is to bring The Garage under its wing while not losing the years of Capitol Hill culture that have built up in the space.

Existing Garage employees aren’t necessarily guaranteed a gig through the changeover. Edison said there will be a new hiring process that existing employees are encouraged to be part of. She said that “a few key people already in the region” will be on hand to manage the new venue. Bowlero already operates a bowling center in Lynnwood.

As for Bowlero coming to Seattle’s relatively progressive labor environment and its still rising minimum wage, Edison said the company has no concerns about doing business here noting the company already operates 300 centers “in some of the highest minimum wage markets” in the country.

Bowlero isn’t yet ready to announce dates around its acquisition plans. In the meantime, The Garage lanes are open and ready for business.

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3 thoughts on “At The Garage, Bowlero hopes to keep the ‘vibe’ without throwing a Capitol Hill gutter ball on ‘authenticity’

  1. What’s an “authentic” bowling alley? Does that just mean that uncool people won’t come (whomever that may be)? Everytime I go it’s filled with Microsoft and Amazon corporate outings.