By John Robert
The game is changing at Parkway Lanes.
Well, not the bowling. That will remain the 10-pin game everyone is familiar with. But the alley?
Dave Patz, 52, and his partners, John and David Martin, are making major overhauls throughout the facility.
The three partners, longtime friends from the northern Ohio area, are making Parkway Lanes part of their new venture, Ten Pins Properties.
“John and David have always loved the bowling business but it wasn’t their primary business,” explained Patz. Patz makes up the difference.
With more than 30 years of experience in the bowling industry, Patz has played countless roles. Once a part-time professional bowler who won two PBA regional titles in the 1980s, he then moved into the business side as a marketing director for Northern Bowling in the Olympia, Wash., area. He then became vice president of Done-Rite Bowling, a wholesale distributor in Ohio that remodels bowling centers and refurbishes bowling pins, among other services.
“Then, I was president and COO of Freeway Lanes Bowling Groups, which managed eight bowling centers throughout northern Ohio.” He sold out of this partnership, looking to start something new.
When Parkway Lanes appeared to be up for sale by its previous owner, Patz wanted to seize the opportunity. Patz lives in the same town he grew up in, Port Clinton, Ohio. He also owns a condo in the Downriver area for work.
“Being in the business for years and years, I knew the previous owners, knew the location, liked the location and saw the potential. The facility had some good solid things: the lanes and machines were in good condition, and the core of the staff was excellent.”
However, Patz sees a bowling alley as more than a place to play a game.
“My vision in this day and age is that league bowling is still very important, but you need other things to go with it. You need family entertainment to go with it. You need cold beer, good food, good beverages, and other things to do.”
That’s why he is doing major renovation to reshape the building around the 32 lanes, which will always be the core of the business.
First up is the construction of a new bar restaurant in the front of the building, Classics Tavern. The kitchen space is substantial, and will offer quality food that one might not normally expect in a bowling alley.
“We’re going to have a top-of-the-line draft system to offer plenty of choices. We have an awesome chef, named Rich Chandler, one of the best chefs in the Cleveland area, who is going to come head up our menu.”
Patz wants the Tavern to be a casual hangout for all ages, with a wide variety of choices for a light meal or more. The restaurant also will feature a “beautiful, 18-square-foot outdoor patio.” Inside, it will offer a good look out onto the lanes.
“The city officials have been very cooperative and helpful — very pro-business so far,” Patz said, adding that, with their blessing, he hopes the facility will open later this fall.
Since the old bar will be rendered redundant, it will be converted into a billiards and darts room. Where formerly there were eight additional lanes (converted into a storage area well before Patz was involved), he is adding a game room/arcade as well as a banquet center that can be separated for groups, and with one-way glass overlooking the lanes.
He also has initiated a full modernization of much of the building, including the exterior. The front has already been covered in a fresh coat of paint and the parking lot has been expanded and refinished. The entrance-way will be rebuilt, as well as new bathrooms and the addition of “tons of televisions.”
Patz also brings his knowledge of the game and the business to all levels of bowling. All three of his sons bowled in college, and he was one of the key figures in creating the bowling program at Notre Dame of Cleveland, which has placed top-10 in the nation the past two years. He remained a coach and recruiter there until last year.
Besides all the renovation, he is presently trying to re-establish the youth bowling program at Parkway Lanes, which had lapsed of late.
“Eventually,” he said, “we want to develop other bowling centers in the area, but right now our concentration is on Parkway Lanes.”
For now, “with our location, with so many communities in the area that I think will support this who can appreciate coming into a true entertainment facility,” he thinks the investment will be worth it for Ten Pins Properties and for bowlers and non-bowlers alike.
After all, this is the next step in bowling alleys. As Patz said, “you need to entertain everyone.”