Shores Bowl underwent a ‘labor of love’

Once thought that the doors were closed forever, a 62-year-old recreational staple in Ocean Shores gets a new lease on life.

Shores Bowl returns two months after the alley’s owner, Rob Shaver, was supposed to vacate the space. But, then a new landlord stepped in and reached an accord with Shaver, who’s run the alley since 1998.

The lifetime bowler, who has bowling “in his blood,” couldn’t be happier to be back in business at 125 W Chance a La Mer NW.

On Saturday afternoon, July 9, the alley was full of people having a blast as they offered smiling faces and fun celebrations while making their spares and strikes.

“This is not bad for a sunny Saturday when people are usually out at the beach,” said Shaver about the blue sky and 70-degree weather in Ocean Shores.

The 12-lane bowling alley with a full bar, pop, pizza, and other menu offerings, underwent a massive overhaul in order to reopen Friday, July 1.

“We spent over $200,000 in here,” Shaver said. “Probably more, but I don’t really want to look that close.”

Shaver said with the current economy that it was kind of a “gutsy move” to remake the alley the way he did.

“But, I believe the people want it, and I believe they’re gonna support us,” he said. “And boy, the outcry that they had when we had to close was just unbelievable. We don’t have to worry about that now.”

In mid-April, it was a different story. When Shaver discussed with The Daily World what he thought was the permanent closing of the alley, Shaver said he and his landlord couldn’t come to an agreement on a lease extension and how the landlord said he had other plans for the space.

Fortunately for Shaver, his family, and Ocean Shores residents, Shaver listened to a friend who told him to trust him. Shaver was in the process of tearing out the alley, which started Monday, May 2, after he lost the lease.

“We spent about 10-12 days tearing it out about 70 percent,” he said. “Then, I got a call saying ‘Hey Rob, don’t take anything out of the bowling alley until you talk to this person.’”

Shaver, not knowing what to do, talked to the person, who turned out to be his new landlord.

“He told me he wanted us to stay if we wanted to stay,” Shaver said. “I told him, ‘I never wanted to leave. I was just kind of forced to leave.’ And then we came up with terms that hopefully will be beneficial to both of us, and I decided, ‘Well, we’ll go all-in now.’”

He’s grateful for the new lease, and with that, it was time to get to work.

“The community needs it,” he said. “They wanted it so bad, so why not give it to them better than ever?”

Through the next two months, Shaver, his family, workers, and local league bowlers helped remake Shores Bowl into the thoughtful, and finely-made design it has now.

The alley now has a laundry list of improvements, including: all-new wall-to-wall flooring; new countertops; synthetic lanes and approaches; brand new pneumatic bumpers; new cap lighting for the popular “Glow Bowl;” new house balls and pins; new digital menu boards, and they refreshed the bathrooms.

But, according to Shaver, he’s not done yet.

“We’re about 80 percent done, but we had to get the doors open,” he said. “So there’s more we’re going to do. There’s more yet to come. We did in six weeks what should have taken six to seven months to do in this business.”

Shaver said supply chain issues made getting equipment difficult, but those who helped, all locals, made it happen.

“They just dug in,” Shaver said. “I have friends in the industry who stepped up and got me stuff months ahead of schedule. They made it possible. They all knew I had a July 1 deadline I was shooting for. A lot of people said, ‘Not gonna happen. It’s too much work. You’re too ambitious.’ I was like, ‘Nope. There’s 24 hours in a day and I’m gonna use most of them. Every day.’ And we got it mostly done.”

Despite the naysayers, the alley was back in business July 1 for what Shaver called “a soft reopen.”

Shaver, who sounded quite pleased about how the place looked, wanted to show off the black leather sofas he had purchased for the bowler’s area.

“Where else are you going to sit in a place around here that is this cozy?” He said, before he described the work he put into the bowling racks. “I refurbished the bowling racks … we stripped them down by hand and got the natural wood back on them, and they look absolutely amazing.”

The arcade was the only thing that didn’t look complete as one pool table and a couple arcade games sat there before a man in a Seattle SuperSonics jersey started playing pool. But, Shaver is in the process of getting the game room back in its customary shape.

The days weren’t short, according to Shaver.

“I had overnighters in here,” he said. “My flooring guy had overnighters in here. My scoring guy had overnighters in here. I spent one night sleeping on the chairs in the bar to take a cat nap. Thirty six-hour jam.”

Shaver said he ordered a lot of delivery and carryout food, or he brought a sack lunch.

“This place was gone,” he said. “It was gone. Everybody who walked in here before we started, their jaw dropped over how far gone we were, and how much we had taken out.”

One of the many who made Shores Bowl what it is now was Kat Holman-Smith, who was briefly pulled aside from bowling to speak about how she feels about the alley being back in business, and how she helped Shaver make his deadline.

“I’m thrilled and excited,” Holman-Smith said. “Rob is an awesome proprietor. I couldn’t ask for a better one, and it’s not because he’s standing here.”

Holman-Smith called working with the Shaver family a “labor of love.” She helped clean, paint, and install bar furniture. She said the newer version of Shores Bowl looks great.

“(It’s) night and day,” Holman-Smith said. “It’s so clean. And the lanes, oh I love these lanes! The new lanes are fantastic. It’s completely different. It’s wonderful.”

The two friends had a back-and-forth exchange about how Holman-Smith got to know people really well while working late at the alley to bring it back to life.

“You do when you spend that much time with people at 2 (a.m.,)” said Shaver to her with a grin. “Outside of a bar.”

Then, Holman-Smith turned to Shaver and told him the whole bowling community is talking about the work Shaver did for the alley. So, Shaver had a message for the community.

“If there’s a message I’d like to send,” Shaver said. “It’s just we’re back, we’re open for business, thank you to everybody for waiting for us, the people who cried for us, the people who prayed for us, and the people who came here and rolled up their sleeves for us.”