Today they are stepping in to get out of their winter boots and bowl on the shiny new five-pin lanes.
Soon they might drop in to sing karaoke, watch a movie in a 230-seat theatre, host a conference or put on a play.
Houston’s Pleasant Valley Plaza just opened its doors to bowlers on Nov. 28 and already the steady, Zen-like sound of falling pins is chiming in the upstairs office of manager Stacy Maciel.
“We’re a place that Houston hasn’t had for many, many years,” Maciel said. “You can come and eat, you can bowl, you can hold theatre events—you can do so many things in one spot and not have to leave town.”
Pleasant Valley is now registering bowling teams for youth, seniors and adults. Bowlers have a half-season to train up before Pleasant Valley formally joins the Bowling Association of B.C. next fall.
Maciel said the bowling is an especially good night out for Houston teens who haven’t had many other options for late-night fun.
“Our main goal for now is to get the bowling area up and running,” she said, adding that the plaza will move on to other projects once that is rolling smoothly.
Standing tall at Butler and 11th Street, the renovated multiplex has a new peaked roof that Maciel said is a big improvement.
“The old roofs leaked, the lanes had water-stains on them—it was really bad,” she said.
Bowlers at Pleasant Valley are much more likely to notice the nine coloured strobe lights that can flash to music on the lanes, or the freshly cut timber frames that stretch up to the lobby ceiling.
Co-owner Kyle Thomson said that at some point, he’d like to have one of the building’s ancient Simplex projects hanging down from those beams—the 1937 machines are old enough, Thomson said, they they’ve already been upgraded from arc lights to incandescent light bulbs.
But behind the scenes at Pleasant Valley, it’s renovations like the upgraded roof, new firebreaks and insulation that are giving new life to the building.
“If you’re going to do something, you may as well do it proper,” said co-owner Eric Bishop.
Walking into the old movie theatre, Bishop pointed out the dusty row of seats that he will pull out to make way for a live stage.
Standing down front, Bishop points out the places where he imagines the new mezzanine and change rooms can go.
Most of the difficult renovations are behind them now, he said, which is good news to all the young people Bishop had to help with construction.
“They want to come in and bowl—they’ve been working here for so long,” he said.
Looking ahead, Bishop said the plaza will likely screen movies on Mondays and Wednesdays, Friday night, Saturday night and Saturday afternoon.
Tuesdays the plaza will likely be open for rent, and Thursdays might be the best day for the occasional concert or musical performance.
After going through all the changes he and the crew have made in the last two years, it’s clear that Bishop is excited to be up and running.
“The place hasn’t run for so long that you’re started something new again,” he said.
The Pleasant Valley plaza will open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Saturday.