The vintage 1960 El Dorado Lanes gets a 21st-century makeover, just like the bowling alleys in Mar Vista and Santa Monica before it

By Gary Walker

An artist’s sketch of the retro-vintage interior of Bowlero Los Angeles Image courtesy of Bowlmor

An artist’s sketch of the retro-vintage interior of Bowlero Los Angeles
Image courtesy of Bowlmor

The transformation of traditional Westside bowling alleys into more versatile and upscale entertainment venues comes to fruition next month with the reopening of the former AMF El Dorado Lanes in Westchester as Bowlero Los Angeles.

The makeover of the Mid-Century Modern El Dorado Lanes, which began operations in April 1960, follows similar reboots of the former AMF Bay Shore Lanes in Santa Monica and the former AMF Mar Vista Lanes on Venice Boulevard.

As Bowlero Los Angeles, the former AMF El Dorado Lanes on Lincoln Boulevard will now offer “black-light bowling with a funky, hipster ethos — a retro-vintage lane-side hangout where you can roll like a rebel, party like a rock star, hit up some awesome arcade games and feast on the wildly inventive American eats of our mouth-rageous menu,” according to its website.

Bowlmor AMF Corp. became the world’s largest 10-pin bowling operator in July 2013 after buying out the bankrupt AMF Bowling Worldwide Inc. The three Westside bowling alleys came with the deal.

Following the renovation of Bay Shore Lanes, Bowlmor closed Mar Vista Lanes for renovation in June 2014 and reopened in April 2015. Company officials said at the time that a conceptual reboot was necessary to return the bowling alley to being profitable.

The resulting eviction of Pepy’s Galley, a neighborhood diner that had operated inside Mar Vista Lanes for 44 years, prompted community outcry that included hundreds of locals protesting outside the bowling alley and a 4,700-strong “Save Pepy’s” Facebook group.

On April 5, Bowlmor representatives presented conceptual drawings of the new Bowlero Los Angeles to the Neighborhood Council of Westchester-Playa.

While a few of the council’s members had questions about the degree of local outreach by Bowlmor, council President Cyndi Hench said she does not anticipate problems because there is no change of use for the location.

“The facility has been a bowling alley forever and will remain a bowling alley. They are not changing their hours of operation. The character of the bowling alley is expected to be different, but that may not be a bad thing,” Hench said.

During the presentation in Westchester, Bowlmor AMF  Los Angeles District Manager Nick Scaccio touted the Mar Vista and Santa Monica remodels as successful enterprises.

“We’ve taken properties that were dilapidated and invested a lot of money in them to make them worthy of the community,” Scaccio said.

Bowlero Los Angeles is expected to open May 21. The new facility features a new arcade with 45 games and should be able to host crowds of 500 or more patrons, according to Scaccio.

Like Pepy’s Galley before it, KJ’s Diner and Restaurant — and its popular $10.95 prime rib Monday night special — will not be returning when the Westchester bowling alley reopens. The restaurant, which closed back in June, once attracted local couples and families for weekend breakfasts and the parking lot was often packed with late-night bowlers and diners.

Bowlero Los Angeles will have its own executive chef create a new menu, as was the case following the conversion of Mar Vista Lanes into Bowlero Mar Vista.

“Our preference is to produce our own food, so we’re responsible for the quality. This also allows us to provide a full-service experience,” Scaccio said.

Unlike the closure of Pepy’s Galley in Mar Vista, there has been no public outcry to keep KJ’s open.

Scaccio said bowling fees in the Westchester alley will be relatively consistent with the Mar Vista location. At Bowlero Mar Vista, games cost $3.49 to $10.19 per person depending on the hour and day.

League bowling, suspended during renovations, “will still be accommodated in some capacity” in Westchester, Scaccio said.