Thursday, June 12, 2008

Twin Lanes: Another bad-ass Cleveland bowling alley on the verge of going belly up

Posted By on Thu, Jun 12, 2008 at 11:09 AM

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Twin Lanes, Tim and Tom Menge's bowling paradise is on the verge of collapse.
As Scene reported in April, Twin Lanes, on E. 30th and Chester, is the bowling puritan’s heaven — but hell for its owners. The venerable alley is run by 60-year old twins Tim and Tom Menge, who blame bowling for virtually every problem in their life: their weight, their single status, their lack of higher education, and, of course, their brokeness. It’s that last aspect that brings us to today’s update. Twin Lanes is one of the few old-school bowling alleys still surviving in Cleveland. (On the west side, Mahall’s in Lakewood comes to mind). The twins have closed the upstairs, which held the majority of the alley’s lanes, and seen unexpected and momentary salvation in the arrival of black customers. But even this previously unfathomable demographic won’t keep the Lanes afloat forever. On our last visit to the alley, a scrawled sign spelled doom: the twins have drastically cut the hours of operation. Previously open seven days a week, and at any hour that a reasonable person would feel like bowling, the alley is now closed from Sunday through Tuesday. On the days that it remains open, hours have also been reduced. “There’s no money,” explains the always understated Tom. ... The alley’s once-bustling neighborhood has been parched of populace since Cleveland’s industry went to, you know, Myanmar or something. And the residents of growing Asia Town, the twins believe, don’t see the inherent beauty in the conversion of a 4-10 split. “The Chinese don’t bowl,” laments Tom. “They bowl for a couple of weeks, and then they give it up. People like to do things with their own kind. They don’t see any Chinese here, so they get sick of it.” A vicious cycle, indeed. The end result of a dearth of casual bowlers from the neighborhood has caused the twins to rely almost exclusively on leagues. Scene started one recently, and we must testify, you can’t beat the price: $8 for three weekly games, shoes included. And the twins are in their element when it comes to running a league; they could do it in their sleep, and sometimes do. Even the most complicated problem—a female bowler drops out and is replaced by a male bowler, who dominates the wrong gender’s leaderboards, the bowling equivalent of the plot of “Juwanna Mann”—is solved with a deft flick of a twin’s wrist upon an ancient keyboard. Perhaps the greatest perk of the league: you’re allowed to keep a tab at the bar. And not a tab where you leave a credit card to be run at the end of the night—the bar doesn’t take credit cards, Nancy. We’re talking a tab where your name gets written on a napkin, and $2.25 Miller Lites are tallied, and you pay in good faith, lest the lady behind the bar start calling you a “stinker.” This is Nixon-era shit. What we’re trying to say here is that if you have one night a week open, and, let’s say, 11 friends, it’s time to start a league at Twin Lanes. Hell, they’ll even open the alley just for you. – Gus Garcia-Roberts

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