If you feel like you’re traveling back in time when you walk through the doors at 4712 W. State St., well, that’s sort of the point.
The place is named after a different century, after all.
Still, when 20th Century Lanes closes at the end of the month, it truly will mark the end of an era — and perhaps the start of another.
The bowling alley’s final day will be June 30. “We’ve had a heck of a run,” general manager Lucas Hohnstein says. “Just kind of be thankful for the time we had. That’s just how life works sometimes. You’ve got to make the best of a crappy situation.”
In a message posted Tuesday on the bowling alley’s Facebook page, he explained the closure.
“Today we have officially been given word that our lease offer has been rejected and a new tenant will be moving into our building. The news is very sudden and still seems surreal, but unfortunately it is true. The friendships and memories made here is immeasurable and we thank all of you who were a part of it over the last 57 years.”
The new tenant? Treasure Valley Skate. The skating rink and fun center’s first day of occupancy is Nov. 1, co-owner Scott Stevens says. “We’ll be swiftly moving in,” he promises, “and trying to open as fast as possible.”
They won’t have to change the jukebox — er, music playlist. When I took my kids bowling at 20th Century Lanes on a recent Saturday, I heard tunes from the early ’80s I hadn’t encountered since I was a kid myself.
The entire place screamed “family-friendly dive” — in a great way. A pack of cigarettes sat on a table in the lounge, which still smelled smoky despite smoking being banned years ago. Our bowling pins weren’t always correctly set. The rented shoes were — well, you know how lovely bowling shoes are. Our orders of golden-brown finger steaks tasted like deep-fried Idaho. I wiped my hands on a napkin before shoving my greasy fingers back into the bowling ball each turn.
We had a total blast. I won! I broke 100! (Come on, it’s only the second time I’ve bowled since, like, 4th grade.)
It’s sad to see this relic of Boise disappear. 20th Century Lanes was founded 80 years ago, according to Hohnstein, the grandson of owner Mona Lindeen, who was unavailable for comment.
“We originally opened our doors in Downtown Boise in 1937 above where Old Chicago is now,” Hohnstein says. “We stated 57 years, because that is when we moved to this location. I like to tell people that 20th Century has been a part of this community longer than there have been 50 states in the union.”
Hohnstein’s farewell message on Facebook reflects the void that will be left: “As the saying goes, ‘all good things must end’ and unfortunately this Boise landmark is no different. While we will miss the sound of crashing pins and the smell of fries and burgers cooking in the café, it is each one of you, our loyal customers, and friends, that will be missed the most.”
Stevens, who will open Treasure Valley Skate with his wife, Tammy, says they were thrilled when their real-estate agent informed them that 20th Century Lanes had been listed. Previously known as Meridian Skate, the couple has been seeking a site for two years.
“We think it’s a great location,” he says. “We’ve been very respectful of Mona and her business, and we understand the longevity, we understand the staple that it’s been for decades.”
“We’re not changing a lot in there, to be honest with you,” Stevens adds. “We’re going to update, of course.”
Please don’t change that finger steak recipe.
Treasure Valley Skate will not, however, sell alcohol.
What about the lounge?
“We’re going to make a party room out of that,” Stevens says.
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