The center opened 46 years ago with Don Carter, a great in the sport, on hand.
Lisa Dutton / blade Enlarge
Yesterday was a time for tears, flowers, hugs, and reminiscences at Ottawa Lanes, the 46-year-old bowling alley on Talmadge Road that has been a premier house in Toledo for traveling leagues.
The business will close Saturday.
"This morning I started crying," said Carol Krenk, who has worked for Ottawa Lanes more than 25 years and was running the counter yesterday.
A group of longtime bowlers dropped by to give her a bouquet of flowers and one last hug.
Wanda Bates, of Perrysburg, takes a bead on the pins. She says her league has enjoyed Ottawa Lanes.
lisa dutton / blade Enlarge
The New Neighbors League, a group of 30 women who mostly are transplants to this region, bowled its last games at the West Toledo lanes yesterday and will relocate to Southwyck Lanes next year.
The other 35 leagues at Ottawa also will be forced to relocate.
Even though the bowling center was never the host to Professional Bowling Association tournaments - events that typically go to larger bowling centers - it has long been regarded in the industry as a prime establishment for leagues.
Helping with its opening day activities in April, 1959, the business had on hand bowling great Don Carter. Some local leagues have bowled at the place for decades.
Surrounded by empty lanes and tables, Larry Thomas removes a vending machine owned by his employer.
lisa dutton / blade Enlarge
"Most of the leagues don't want to leave," said Jim Hassen, head mechanic at Ottawa. "They like bowling here. "We do a lot for our customers."
"It's a shame," said Colleen Weider, of Perrysburg, a league member originally from Chicago. "It's a nice bowling alley that's been here forever."
Jennell Brown, an Ottawa Hills resident who relocated from California, said, "I like it that they have child care. That enables me to bowl."
Wanda Bates, of Perrysburg, said, "We love the location."
The bowling alley is across Talmadge from Westfield Shoppingtown Franklin Park, but it is older. James Nopper, then 23, opened Ottawa Lanes 14 years before the Franklin Park mall.
"I think it's sad," said Christie Bush, of from Sylvania, whose young son played in the child-care room while she bowled. "Of all the bowling alleys. Toledo doesn't need another restaurant."
The bowling alley is closing because the property has been sold and the building is soon to be razed to make room for a Smokey Bones Barbeque & Grill. It'll be the second restaurant in the area by Darden Restaurants Inc. of Orlando, Fla. The first opened a year ago in Maumee.
Three years after Mr. Nopper started Ottawa Lanes, he added eight lanes and added another eight a decade later, bringing the total to 32. The facility also has a cafe, a lounge, a game arcade, and five pool tables.
"It's been a tough week for me," said Mr. Nopper, who has been saying farewell to many faithful customers.
He said he is not ready to announce his plans for the future.
Contact Homer Brickey at: