Owning and operating a bowling alley is a full-time gig, especially for Olympia Aztec Lanes owners Dan and April Brathovd, who stay busy managing the day-to-day tasks, special events, leagues and giving back to the community.
As they wrap up their summer leagues and Kids Bowl Free program, it’s now time to gear up for the upcoming fall season, one of their busier times of the year. This year Aztec has 10 different league options, with one or two leagues playing every night of the week. And there’s a team for every type of player. Youth, senior, men, women, and mixed teams can play for $10-22, depending on the league.
For friends and families simply looking for a fun evening of bowling, there’s also open play every day of the week, plus late night bowling from 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. four nights a week, and Sunday nights from 7:45 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. On Friday nights, the lanes go dark for Lightning Bowl, with music and color-changing LED lights. “It’s safe for kids, anybody can come do it,” says Dan. “We have a music video system that plays on the screens that aren’t scoring, and big projectors over the lanes. We crank up the music and it’s like a big party.”
The bowling experience just wouldn’t be complete without food. Sandwiches, burgers, fries, pizza, and other typical and tasty treats are vended in a separate and spacious dining area. Aztec Lanes also offers birthday party packages, plus center rentals for group events and fundraisers.
“We’ve been working with Chinook Middle School for several years,” says Dan. He offers them a discounted rate on bowling and shoe rentals for a specific night, and all funds brought in that night benefit the school. Dan’s own kids, now 21, 19, and 16, all went to Chinook. And it was his daughter that first connected with a teacher to start the fundraiser.
Dan’s kids all bowled too. “My oldest daughter was really good, she did really well at state competitions,” says Dan, who coaches the team at North Thurston High School. “My youngest daughter is still with the program, she’s starting to click now, and she likes to bowl.”
Aztec Lanes also runs a pro-shop, where avid players can order custom balls and other gear with next day pick-up. “There’s a lot of dynamics in a bowling ball,” shares Dan. “There are things we can do differently to make them work better for certain people.”
Dan has owned Aztec Lanes for 10 years, but he has been working full-time at the alley since 1993. After buying the bowling alley from his grandfather, he has worked hard to remodel and improve much of the alley’s interior. Over the years they have remolded the bathrooms, added new seating and tables, and upgraded the scoring system with flat screen TVs and touch screen tablets to track scoring. The tablets also come with software and games designed to keep the little bowlers and kids engaged.
The next big project will be improving the exterior of the building. “We’re trying to keep things running and fresh and new,” Dan says, “It’s like what am I gonna do next?”
Although Dan has done much of the remodeling himself, he’s also grateful for the help of his father, a former contractor who he has called up to help with the remodel projects. Dan also enlisted the help of his own family and his sisters to help assemble the new furniture when it arrived. Even some customers have pitched in their knowledge and skills for the alley’s improvement. When Dan was looking to replace the two glass entry doors, he found out that one of his customers happened to be a professional installer and owner of Eagle Glass, and he offered to do the job for him.
The improvements haven’t stopped with the building. Recently, Aztec Lanes was approached by an individual in the community and together they organized a neighborhood street clean-up project along with about 18 other volunteers from the area.
Thanks to the support from friends and customers, Aztec Lanes has continued to be a thriving family owned business, one which also gives back to their customers and the community beyond.
“We have lots of long-time customers,” says Dan. “I work open to close almost every day, so we know all our customers. It’s nice to know everybody. It’s kind of like it is just one big family. Everybody comes in, we know about their kids, and what they do for a living.”
Whether you’re new to bowling or a loyal leaguer, there’s lots of quality, friendly fun to be had at Aztec Lanes. For questions or to sign-up for a league, stop by the alley or call them directly at 360-357-8808.
2825 Martin Way E. Olympia