Athens Review, Athens, Texas

September 6, 2013

Alley is on a roll now

Grant program has made positive impact on local bowling center

Rich Flowers
The Athens Review

Athens — Amit Desai has spent the last two years restoring Athens Bowling Center as a go-to destination for recreation and family-friendly fun.

Desai’s was judged first place in the start-up business competition held by the Small Business Development Center and the AEDC last spring. The win was worth a $30,000 grant to reimburse Desai for some of the work he’s done at the center.

But that’s only a fraction of the improvements Desai has done to the complex on West Corsicana Street. He’s spent more than $200,000 remodeling the 20-lane facility.

“We completely redid the inside of the building,” Desai said. “We replaced the floor, carpeting and resurfaced the lanes. We had about eight lanes that were down needing maintenance.”

He’s also taken steps to increase the number of people aiming at the pins on the 20 available lanes. Senior league bowling is on Monday night and the new Thursday bowling league kicked off a week ago.

Those who bowled at the center before Desai took over in 2011 will notice another change. The ball return machines have been redone.

“They were in pretty bad shape,” Desai said. “The regular bowlers know the difference.”

Desai said he knew little about the bowling business when he took over the operation, but soon learned that the quickest way to make the center successful was to rejuvenate league bowling. Having competitive league play keeps the lanes busy on competition nights.

“We’re getting more and more families coming. We’ve seen lots of new faces,” Desai said. Some of them coming from Palestine and some from the lake area.”

In the works are more improvements. Desai would like to further upgrade the machine and add more air conditioners. Improvements are also in store for the miniature golf area.

AEDC President Brian Malone said the projects entered by finalists for grant funds are a work in progress. The Ice House Events Center and the Three plus One Color Perfection entries, which were awarded $20,000 and $10,000, respectively, have not yet completed their work and submitted for reimbursement.

The AEDC and Small Business Development Center liked the results of the first start-up business class and they are planning another. Students are currently being sought for the 8-week course. Those who wish to attend are not required to enter the competition for the grant.