Already closed due to the pandemic and its owners looking for new opportunies, a longstanding business has wound down.
The owners of Elmira Bowl, a fixture in the town since its opening in the 1960s, announced last week they were closing the doors for good.
Jeff Young, co-owner alongside his wife Jen, said he appreciates the concern and gratitude residents have expressed since the decision was made public. Some have even been throwing around the idea of launching a fundraiser to restart the company, but Young says COVID-19 is not the sole reason for the move.
“It’s a chapter in our lives, and we are moving on to the next one. We came into this business not being from the community, [but] the support from the community itself and the friendships that we have made … coming into any community knowing you may not be welcome, that was never the case. The public bowling was awesome, but the friendships we made from the league bowlers every week were special. You’d wake on a Wednesday, and it’s like, ‘oh, I’m going to see so and so today.’ They always made it something to look forward to.”
Although the coronavirus and the current lockdown interfered in the Youngs’ process, they had already agreed to sell the building.
“We were selling regardless,” he said.
“For us, we are in our 40s, and I was here 70 hours a week. We made the joke that out of 14 days of a two-week period, I’d be here 13 and a half. And Jen works at the Toyota plant. I come home at night, and if she is on days, she is sleeping, and if she is on nights, she’s at work. And she comes home if she’s on nights I’m sleeping, then if she comes home from days, I’m working,” he said of the ongoing issues.
“I don’t want to say that it’s been a strain on our relationship, because it hasn’t. We get to that point, working seven days a week, 70 hours a week. It’s tough. For us, we just needed a change. It feels like life has been put on hold for a while. We want to be able to live our lives, and the bowling center has kind of held it back.”
Still, it wasn’t an easy decision. In fact, they initially had plans to expand, Young explained, noting that process was made more difficult by banking hurdles.
“I always found we were fighting more with them than getting anywhere. It’s hard to run a business with your hands tied and not have the dream to be what you want it to be.”
The building has been sold, but what it’s next use is remains for the new owners to reveal, said Young.
“I know what their plans are, but it’s not my place to say what they are doing. I know they are pretty excited about what they are going to do, but that’s their news.”