PANAMA CITY. One of Panama City’s longtime entertainment hubs will reopen its doors to continue serving the community through bowling, fun and entertainment.
Bowl-A-Rama Lanes is set to reopen on Wednesday after an extended period of recovery from the devastation caused by Hurricane Michael. Bowl-A-Rama Lanes, located at 2300 W. 15th Street, is a symbol of Panama City as the business has been operating in the city since the early 1960s.
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Owner Don Williams purchased the facility with his wife in November 2020 with a plan to continue the business as a community center in Panama City. Bowling with 16 lanes will be open on the opening day from 11:00 to 22:00. Official opening hours have not yet been set, but Williams intends to announce them within a week.
“I love bowling and as a kid I always wanted to have my own bowling alley,” Williams said, noting that he started bowling at a young age. “After Hurricane Michael, we saw an opportunity to buy this bowling alley and decided to take it. I’ve been bowling here for many years and hope to continue to do so for many more years.”
The company will operate only bowling alleys to begin with and will open additional areas within a month, including a snack bar and a mini-gallery.
There were many problems
Williams described the completion of the 19-month journey as a light at the end of a tunnel where he faced many roadblocks to reopening the business. He handled issues that delayed the opening date by more than a year, including finding contractors, conducting inspections and obtaining permits, and licensing issues.
“I originally expected to open in August 2021, but it has been a long and tedious process,” Williams said. “The hardest part was moving forward with a lot of projects. We did most of the work ourselves, but we still needed to do something, but we couldn’t find anyone to do it.”
Regardless, Williams’ hard work has paid off and he is now in the early stages of reopening and will continue to move forward until the business is completed.
Save bowling as an icon
Williams said the business is still a work in progress and more projects need to be completed before the lane is officially completed. Looking to the future, he plans to give the alley a modern look, as most of the structures are outdated and the operations use old equipment.
Once the business is fully operational, in addition to the bowling alley, patrons will be able to enjoy a full snack bar, mini arcade and jukebox tunes, making a visit worthy of a family outing. In addition, the business will eventually host events such as birthday parties and special nights for local bowling leagues.
With many changes yet to come, Williams is hopeful that his bowling alley will maintain its status as an icon in Bay County and looks forward to welcoming new and returning guests to the Bowl-A-Rama next week. He also plans to hold a small re-opening ceremony in the near future, and depending on the success of the first days of opening, he will consider building a team to help run the business on a daily basis.
“I hope all visitors enjoy and enjoy what we have brought to Panama City. It may not be what people expect from relevance, but it’s an icon and we want to keep that status here in Bay County,” he said. “But eventually it will be upgraded. It just takes time and a lot of patience.”