They packed up the bowling pins Monday at AMF Westchester Lanes.
Sixty years after it opened under the ownership of Pete Lokey and Jack Moore, and two years after the closure of Regency Lanes Bowling Center on Real Road, a longtime staple of downtown entertainment and sporting activity is no more.
Bowlero Corp., the New York-based owner of the 24-lane, 22,000-square-foot bowling alley and restaurant building at 30th and F streets, is in escrow to sell to a local investor, according to the proprietor of the structure's only remaining tenant, Mossman's Westchester Coffee Shop.
Rick Mossman said he has also been informed that Bowlero plans to consolidate its Bakersfield busienss to its other local bowling alley, AMF Southwest Lanes on Wible Road, which will be renovated. He declined to identify the proposed buyer of the downtown location.
A spokeswoman for Bowlero, owner-operator of hundreds of bowling centers across the country, said she was unable to comment Monday.
The 60-year-old coffee shop beloved for its fish and chips won't be closing, Mossman said. In fact, he said it's going to expand.
Mossman also owns a booming catering business and a second coffee shop at AMF Southwest, both of which he said will move to the downtown building. The prospective new owner has told him the plan is to add banquet rooms where the bowling lanes are now, he said, adding that the kitchen will have to be expanded.
The grandson of the downtown restaurant's original owner, Mossman spent part of the day Monday reminiscing about the restaurant's early days. He recalled the head dishwasher setting up a milk crate so the young Mossman could stand on it and learn how to scrub plates properly.
He also told about the day 10 or 15 years ago when everything suddenly went silent inside the building. "You could hear a pin drop," he said.
The silence prompted him to walk out of the kitchen to see what had happened. That's when he discovered a father and son, bowling several lanes apart, were on the verge of scoring simultaneous perfect games. But both missed on their last frame, he said.
After finishing lunch at Mossman's downtown location Monday, Taft resident Harold Wagner shared about making the drive to Bakersfield in decades past looking for good fish and good bowling with friends.
"We had a lot of fun here," he said.
California bowling writer Bette Addington reported that bowlers gathered at Westchester Lanes on Sunday for the bowling alley's last day of business, telling stories from the building's heyday.
Addington wrote that the center was put up for sale about a year ago and that this most recent season was the first in which no bowling tournaments were scheduled. The competitions were ended because most of the lanes had problems and could not easily be fixed.
"Now the center is completely closed off and removal of the lanes begins," she wrote. "What was once a thriving center is now gone."