Bowling: Westchester Lanes closing its doors
By Steve T. Gorches 314-3797 or email@example.com July 2, 2013 10:30PM
The Ello family has put their resources together to purchase Westchester Lanes in Chesterton. They are (from left) Joe, his wife Nicole, Evelyn, and her husband Tony.
Updated: August 4, 2013 6:40AM
When a bowling center closes, it almost brings a tear to my eye.
I know businesses have been closing all over the country in the last five years as the economy tries to recover, and I know bowling league participation has been dropping nationwide for several years. But that doesn’t mean it’s any easier to accept a local center throwing in the towel.
That’s what Westchester Lanes owners Tony and Evelyn Ello have done. They announced over the weekend that the 16-lane house in Chesterton will be officially closing at the end of this month.
The closing is posted on the center’s website: “Effective immediately the center is closed except for Saturdays in July through the 20th, moonlight bowling 9 p.m. to 11 p.m., July 6-20 … free adult bowling 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. Closed all hours after July 20 … Hope to see you all out this July for our final farewell wishes!!”
Evelyn Ello confirmed there’s still a sliver of hope for the center, but not under her and her husband’s watch. She said a couple possible buyers were slated to look over the business this week. As for why Tony and Evelyn decided to close, it’s pretty simple.
“We’ve put a lot of money into this place over seven years,” Evelyn said. “It’s sad that the Duneland community doesn’t support this center more.”
A pair of Lakeshore Bowling Association officers were disappointed, to say the least, after dealing with the closure of another of its centers, Dunes Bowl in Gary, a couple years ago.
“It’s a sad thing for the Chesterton bowling community, the Ello family and the LakeShore USBC,” Lakeshore manager Gene Skalba said. “Hopefully the Ello family finds a buyer for the center and everyone can move on.”
“I’m very sorry to hear that,” Lakeshore president Jeff Snuffer said. “I know the Ellos put a lot of time into making Westchester a success.”
The issue with a new buyer coming in for any struggling center at this point of the year is that other nearby houses are already trying to poach the remaining leagues. I talked to another center about 10 miles away that is hot on the trail of acquiring Westchester leagues, and why wouldn’t those league look for greener pastures? They can’t wait for a possible buyer, and then maybe not have a place to bowl in a couple months. Decisions need to be made now.
Maybe a miracle can happen for Westchester, but if not, it’s another example of the changing landscape of business in general. Hard work and putting money into something isn’t enough anymore. Sometimes old school and going back to the grassroots way of getting customers is the way to go. I know of a couple local centers doing that, and they’re surviving fine in the new bowling world.
Lakeshore annual meeting: The LakeShore Association will hold its annual membership meeting at 1 p.m. on July 21 at Stardust Bowl II. On the agenda are various reports, annual election of officers, directors, delegates to the USBC-IBA-USBC conventions and election to the hall of fame. All members of a Lakeshore league are eligible to attend and vote. Those on the ballot for the hall of fame are Faye Thomas, Marilyn Nelson, Lisa Harrold and Kelly Gough for women, and Fred Nystrom, Daryl Weimer, Dave Fowble, Andy Kendera and Jeff Snuffer for men.
Lakeshore scholarship honorees: On June 20, the LakeShore USBC scholarship committee selected three students to receive renewable scholarships. They are Merrillville graduates Amber Falaschetti and Carly Larson, and Chesterton grad Johnny Gorches. Falaschetti will be attending IUPUI for forensic science. Larson will attend Valparaiso University for nursing, as well as being part of the bowling team. Gorches is attending Calumet College for computer animation, and also as part of the bowling squad.
Coaching seminar at Camelot: NWIndianabowling.com and Camelot Bowl in Portage are hosting the USA Bowling Coaching Seminar from 2 to 5 p.m. on July 20. After completing the free seminar, information will be given to earn a Level 1 coaching certification. Attendees will also receive free material, including a 138-page USA Bowling Coaching manual and eight-week lesson plan. To register, visit www.bowl.com/usabowlingcoaching/ or www.nwindianabowling.com no later than two weeks before the session.
P-T bowlers of the year: The Post-Tribune league bowlers of the year will continue the next two weeks with women and men. In recent years there has been debate on who deserves to be on the P-T adult all-star teams, so here’s a change: You tell me who should be there for the 2012-13 season. Email or call me with nominations or suggestions based on this past season’s stats.