WILKES-BARRE — The city is down to one bowling alley, now that Stanton Lanes has closed without an explanation.
The longtime business is “closing immediately,” according to a notice on the Stanton Lanes Junior Bowling Facebook page.
“It is with a heavy heart and deep sadness that I announce Stanton Lanes is closing immediately. The lanes and the junior bowling program have been a second home to many of us over the past years,” the statement by Barb Reynolds says.
However, it does not indicate why the bowling center is closing, and it’s not known how many jobs will be lost.
“It is accurate and I have no comment at this time. Thanks,” said a woman who answered at the bowling alley Friday afternoon.
When reporters arrived at the Stanton Street alley a short time later, the parking lot was mostly empty and a sign on the door said “Closed for Vacation.” A few people could be seen inside the business, but the door was locked, and they did not open the door for reporters.
Chacko: ‘Not a good thing’
Across town at Chacko’s Family Bowling Center, which is now the only bowling alley in the city of Wilkes-Barre, the owners said it’s sad to see Stanton Lanes go.
“It’s not a good thing whenever this happens,” Dan Chacko said. “It hurts the industry no matter what.”
While it wasn’t possible to get in contact with the owners of Stanton Lanes on Friday afternoon, Chacko speculated on reasons for the closure, saying he believes it’s not indicative of a larger trend in the bowling industry.
“You have to nip issues in the bud,” Chacko said. He suggested instead of dealing with necessary renovations and other issues as they popped up, the alley let them accumulate, leading to it becoming outdated compared to other bowling meccas.
“One of the biggest problems over there was the air-conditioning,” Chacko said, noting the building became uncomfortably warm in the summer months. “If it gets above 72 (degrees) here, I have people screaming that it’s too hot.”
Anne Chacko-Libby was quick to say the closure is a loss for the community.
“It’s sad to see them go,” she said. “You have friends that bowled there, that worked there. I used to bowl there, that was back in the ’70s. It’s sad.”
‘Grew up in there’
Bill Tarutis, an area photographer who frequently shoots for the Times Leader, also expressed disappointment over the announcement.
“I literally grew up in there,” Tarutis wrote in an email. “Spent many hours in that place with junior bowling and later league bowling.”
And it wasn’t just time Tarutis would spend there.
“Also spent many, many, many quarters in the pinball machines and video games. Space Invaders, Asteroids, PacMan, etc.”
One local bowler, Travis Sparks, said Stanton will always feature prominently in his memories. Sparks, of Wilkes-Barre, started a youth tournament at the alley, called the Northeastern Pennsylvania Junior Classics Series, which has since evolved to the website juniorbowling.com.
But before all that, Sparks said it was at Stanton that he got his first taste of bowling in 1985, saying he went there during a trip for altar servers.
“I bowled the youth program every Saturday morning until I was too old to do it,” Sparks said.
He then began to volunteer for the program before eventually being offered a job at the alley, where he worked for four years.
Stanton Lanes will always be an important part of his life.
“About 20 percent of my friends, I’ve met through Stanton, and that was just in the ’80s and ’90s,” said Sparks. “Even though the building may be going, the friendships are going to last, and that’s what I’m going to remember the most.”