By Wendy Nugent, Harvey County Now
NEWTON—Jessie Arellano and Tobe Moore hadn’t seen each other for 40 years, not since they worked together on the railroad.
On Dec. 14, the two, along with a few others, reminisced, joked and hung out. They were at Eastgate Lanes having lunch and the group of them, including Mike Arellano, Terri Belgard and Eastgate co-owner Pat Zenner, sat around a round table being the last to leave the establishment that day.
“We’re old railroaders,” Moore said.
Eastgate Lanes has been a place in Newton where people go to socialize, eat and throw a few bowling balls. Owners Barb and Pat Zenner provide a colorful, friendly atmosphere there for parties, leagues, high school teams and the public to play ball. Pat himself retired once already—from the railroad in 2012 after 41 years.
Now, after being in business for 32 years, they’re wanting to hang up their bowling shoes.
“We bought it June the 27th, 1989,” Barb said, adding the building was built in 1961 and opened in 1962.
During their tenure, the Zenners have renovated at least three times.
“We’re looking to retire, so that’s why we put it up for sale, so we could get it out there, so we could get somebody to take it over,” Barb said.
They’d prefer someone purchase the business, as they don’t want to just shut it down.
“We want to have a buyer first,” Barb said. “It seems like everybody thinks I’m setting a date and walking out the door. I’m not going to do that.”
Although they’ve had a lot of interest from potential buyers, the place hasn’t sold, yet.
“I just feel once they get the scoop of what it entails every day, it’s a lot of hours,” she said. “So many people think you just walk in the door and that’s all it takes. It’s not. There’s a lot of maintenance to it. There’s always something to do, something to fix.”
Those wanting to find out more about purchasing the business and building can contact Eastgate Lanes at 316-283-0430. Eastgate Lanes is at 1610 E. Second St. in Newton.
Barb said that for her, it seems like there’s so much cooking to be done. There’s also a lot of people wanting to have parties there. In fact, she was on the phone at one point taking a party reservation for a group of 25-30 people who wanted access to the grill.
Barb said they are filled up with parties for the holidays.
With a place of business, there come people, and Barb said she has memories of those.
“So many memories,” she said. “They’re all so special. When I look back, I think the greatest joy is seeing the kids when they were small and seeing their kids when they’ve grown up.”
Some people she knew when they were small, grow up, have children of their own and return to see Barb.
“I do have my regulars,” she said. “I have my regulars for lunch and I have my bowlers.”
That’s among what Barb will miss most.
“People,” she said. “I’ve loved that. I love people. When I came into this, I wanted everybody to feel like they were home, to feel welcome. Most of them, that’s how they’d say they felt.”
The challenges during the years also have included people. Barb said there just are people you can’t please.
“No matter what you would give them, it’s not enough,” she said. “A challenge is always making sure the equipment is running properly. There’s always the challenge of making sure there’s great help. I’ve been very, very lucky all these years to have great work staff—always.”
Paul said the best part of having the bowling alley is when kids go there and don’t know their shoe sizes. Moms these days don’t know them either, he said. Years ago, people used to know their shoe sizes.
In addition to customers, the alley also has a memorabilia display.
“Things that were here when I purchased it that I just left in showcases, items people have made for me, given to me,” Barb said about what’s in the display. “So much to tell in that whole showcase. When I announced to the league we’re wanting to retire, somebody said, ‘I want some of that stuff in the showcase.’ It means something to me.”
She can’t just give those things away.
Among the artifacts are bowling pins, some of which are painted like Santa and one is even signed by a professional bowler, and a photo of a Newton team that went to Nationals.
“All of it, so cool,” Barb said. “So many things from so many people.”
Eastgate Lanes hours start at 6 p.m., Mondays through Saturdays, and the grill is open from 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Tuesdays and Wednesdays, as well as in the evenings for bowlers and carryout. Saturday and Sunday afternoons are open for parties.