PANAMA CITY — One of Panama City’s long-standing entertainment centers will reopen its doors to continue to serve the community through bowling, entertainment, and fun.
Bowl-A-Rama Lanes is on track to reopen Wednesday after an extensive period of rebuilding from the destruction of Hurricane Michael. Bowl-A-Rama Lanes, located at 2300 W. 15th St., stands as an icon in Panama City, as the business has operated in town since the early 1960s.
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Owner Don Williams purchased the facility with his wife in November of 2020 with a plan to continue the business as a community hub in Panama City. The 16-lane bowling alley will operate on the reopening date from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Official operation hours are not yet established, but Williams intends to announce those within a week.
“I love bowling, and growing up, I have always wanted to have my own bowling alley,” Williams said, noting that he had started bowling at a young age. “After Hurricane Michael, we saw the opportunity to purchase this bowling alley and decided to take it. I’ve bowled here for years and hope to continue doing so for many more.”
The business will only operate the bowling lanes to start and will open more areas, including a snack bar and mini arcade, within a month.
Challenges have been many
Williams described completing the 19-month journey as the light at the end of a tunnel, where he had faced many roadblocks to getting the business back up and running. He’s dealt with challenges that had set the opening date back for over a year, including finding contractors, getting inspections and permits done, and licensing issues.
“I originally anticipated reopening in August 2021, but it was just a long, tedious process,” Williams said. “The hardest part was moving forward with a lot of projects. We’ve done a lot of the work ourselves, but there were still things we needed to get done but couldn’t find anyone to do it.”
Despite this, the hard work paid off for Williams, and now he’s in the first stages of reopening and will continue pushing through until the business is complete.
Keeping bowling alley an icon
Williams said the business is still a work in progress, and more projects must be done before the alley is officially complete. Looking into the future, he plans to incorporate a modern look to the alley, as most designs are outdated and the operations use older machinery.
Once the business is fully operational, aside from bowling, visitors can enjoy a full snack bar, mini arcade, and tunes from a jukebox, making a visit worth a family-friendly outing. In addition, the business will eventually host events such as birthday parties and special nights for local bowling leagues.
With many changes still to come, Williams hopes his bowling alley keeps its icon status in Bay County and looks forward to welcoming new and returning guests to Bowl-A-Rama next week. He also plans to hold a small reopening ceremony in the near future, and depending on the success of the first days open, he would look into building a team to help run the business daily.
“I’m hoping everyone that visits has fun and enjoys what we’ve brought back to Panama City. It may not be what people expect as far being up to date, but it’s an icon, and we want to keep that status here in Bay County,” he said. “But eventually, it would be upgraded. It just takes time and a lot of patience.”