The distinctive sound of bowling balls crashing into pins echoed through Olympia Lanes Monday afternoon.
Those taking advantage of the “soft opening” this week of the business at 110 Mason St. sharpened their skills as final renovations and fine-tuning of equipment continue.
The formal grand opening of Olympia Lanes should take place soon, owners Elena and David Lambert said.
The Lamberts bought the 12-lane bowling center earlier this year and began renovation of the interior, roof repairs and installation of state-of-the art equipment.
“We literally gutted everything in here. The bowling equipment is refurbished or all new,” Elena Lambert said.
Food and pro shop areas are still being set up, she said. Bowling balls, shoes, and jerseys will be available. A fully equipped game room and two pool tables are already in place.
Customers bowling Monday helped ensure the equipment is working properly.
“It helps us fine-tune the machines,” she said.
New features at Olympia Lanes include automatic scoring, a ball return system with attached hoods and racks, new bumpers and gutters and all-new lanes.
The bowling public has been following the progress at Olympia Lanes on the business’ Facebook page. Interest has been high, with more than 100 shares and 12,500 views, Lambert said.
“It’s been really overwhelming in a positive way on Facebook,” she said. “The community support has been absolutely wonderful.”
Customers are already booking bowling parties and joining leagues being formed for youths and adults. More information is on Facebook.
The bowling center will host competitions involving the Greeneville and Chuckey-Doak high school bowling teams. Members of the Tusculum University team will practice there.
Olympia Lanes is part of the public’s collective memory. The Greeneville bowling center has been a gathering place since the 1970s.
“Back then, (bowling) around this area used to be really huge,” Lambert said. “The area is still awesome for the sport of bowling. It’s great to see younger bowlers in here.”
Aeron Burkhardt, a Tusculum University bowling team member, was throwing strikes on one of the newly installed lanes Monday. He is happy to see the bowling center reopen after it remained closed in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s close. It is nice. The closest one nearest to this is probably 40 to 50 minutes away,” Burkhardt said. “Everything here is updated and functioning.”
Kent Bushey was bowling a few lanes away. The Connecticut native recently settled in Greene County and was in bowling leagues before moving here. Bushey likes the atmosphere of Olympia Lanes. He said many bowling alleys in Connecticut converted to “entertainment centers” blaring loud music that makes it difficult even to hear other team members.
“Any time you see them open a bowling alley and it is not an entertainment center, I think it’s a win,” he said. “I’m glad to see that they’re opening back up.”
Carol Hall saw the Facebook post and brought her 7-year-old grandson Bruce to bowl several games. Hall, a retired teacher and volunteer at local Special Olympics competitions, said Olympia Lanes could play host to related events in the future.
“I’m so happy they opened it back up,” Hall said. “These folks did a very good job of making us feel welcome.”
Bowling encourages interaction in an age dominated by cellphones and remote communication.
“It’s good, especially for high school and elementary school kids. The best part is being inclusive and being supportive of everybody. It really is a safe place for kids to be able to come, and I think all kids need that,” Elena Lambert said.
The Lamberts plan a full grand opening “within the next couple of weekends,” she said.
Updates will be posted on Facebook.
“We’re trying to get the community to be part of the transition,” Lambert said.