Life is lighting up at Aztec Lanes, a premiere bowling alley in Olympia, where leagues, families and friends are once again feeling the thrill of knocking over pins. Owner Dan Brathovd is breathing a sigh of relief as pandemic restrictions have eased to allow limited capacity inside. There’s a maximum of four bowlers per lane, and leagues have staggered play, but there’s no limit to players’ enthusiasm. “The entire staff is loving it!” says Dan about being back at work.
Aztec Lanes endured 163 days of business closure, which was challenging for everyone. There were sporadic openings. “People would wait to get their turn,” says Dan. “It was crazy how badly people want to get out,” he remembers. Aztec Lanes appreciates this community. “Customers are the root of our survival,” notes Dan.
The business has been in the family since the early 1970s. When was his first game? “I was young,” muses Dan whose mom worked there for her father, Dan’s grandfather, the owner. It was his grandfather that offered him an entry to the family business. Dan said yes, and he never left. It’s safe to say he’s worked on his game over the decades. I noticed his name up on the score board twice for bowling a 300 in recent months. In case you don’t know that that means – it’s 12 strikes in a row. That’s as good as it gets.
I’m a novice bowler, scoring equally with my right and left hand, which isn’t saying a lot since I am happy to get over 100. Don’t let lack of experience keep you away. Dan encourages people of all skill levels to come in. Pick up a solid 14-pound ball, situate yourself a few steps behind the line, reach your arm towards the back wall, then follow through with a smooth release on the ball for its journey down 60 feet of well-oiled lane. Concentrate on its path while willing the ball to head directly into the sweet spot between the front two pins. Your heart will be pumping in anticipation as it nears the pocket when upon impact those 10 pins fly apart into a clattering collision. It’s a thrill. Especially when they all go down.
Heighten your thrills on Friday nights with Lightning Bowling, a music and light extravaganza now enhanced with the Brunswick Spark experience. “My friends and I laughed and cheered and had fun requesting music videos,” says one satisfied bowler. The interactive scoring experience brings another level of fun and games. Make your reservation for a lane on a Friday evening. From 9:30 p.m. to midnight you can bowl as many games as you can squeeze into the time. It’s $18 a person with shoe rental included. The snack bar is open for pizza, burgers, fries, chicken strips, salad, beer, wine and soft drinks.
Aztec Lanes hosts the North Thurston High School bowling team for practice. Dan coached when his older and younger daughters were on the team. They have since graduated, but he is still helpful to up-and-coming bowlers. If you are considering consistent bowling, you might want to join a league. Aztec has men’s, women’s, and mixed. You do need to be a card-carrying member of the United States Bowling Congress. It’s easy to join.
Summer is right around the corner and kids can bowl for free from the middle of June until the end of August. Youth under 15 can take in two free games daily. You’ll need to rent shoes if you don’t have your own. Register at Kids Bowl Free to get signed up. It’s a great way to introduce students to bowling and find out how much fun it can be with friends and family. The snack bar is open, too. Aztec Lanes has been supporting this program for years.
Aztec Lanes can also be a place to celebrate birthdays and other events. There are various packages that include bowling, snacks, shoe rental, audio, laser lights and more. Young and inexperienced bowlers can opt for gutter guards. The ball never goes into the gutter. Modern conveniences let you lower the guards for the more experienced players during the game and raise them for the rest of the group. It’s perfect for families.
Aztec Lanes is a long running, family-owned business providing fun, reliable entertainment for all ages. The Aztec team has become efficient pros at sanitizing balls, shoes and the play area for each group. They want everyone to feel safe. Let the good times roll.
Check the schedule, join a league, make a date.
2825 Martin Way E, Olympia