Thursday, June 24, 2021     Volume: 22, Issue: 17

Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on September 9th, 2020, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 21, Issue 28 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 21, Issue 28

Bowlers rally in support of reopening Rancho Bowl

By Karen Garcia

On Sept. 5 about 60 people lined the sidewalk in front of Rancho Bowl and Lounge in Santa Maria to show their support for the business and rally to reopen the family-friendly entertainment center. 

Bowling enthusiasts throughout the Central Coast came together on Sept. 5 to rally behind Rancho Bowl and advocate to reopen California’s bowling industry.

Back Alley Pro owners Richard and Norma Cunningham were in the crowd. The professional bowlers shop is inside Rancho Bowl. The retired couple is active in the local bowling community, and Richard is a member of the Central Coast Bowlers. 

He told the Sun that his days were spent at the shop and playing games with his peers and fellow Central Coast Bowlers members. That all changed when Rancho Bowl had to close in March, and when it closed again in July after reopening for nearly two weeks. 

Under Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, family entertainment centers that include bowling alleys can reopen when a county is in the third moderate tier (orange color-coded) of COVID-19 risk level. When a county reaches this level, bowling alleys can open with modifications and a 25 percent maximum capacity.

Santa Barbara County is currently in the first widespread tier (purple color-coded) that directs many nonessential indoor business operations to remain closed for the time being. 

Rancho Bowl took a hit when it had to close a second time, because it has invested funds toward sanitization equipment and employee training to keep staff and customers safe, General Manager Wade Stever said. 

“We barely got our feet in the water and then we had to shut down again. So we’re a little concerned with how much longer we can hang on,” Stever said. 

Stever is worried about the company that’s been a staple in the Santa Maria community for 61 years and the 50 employees who would like to get back to work. 

In an effort to raise awareness about the state of the business and the service that it provides for the community, Stever organized a local rally as part of a statewide movement calling for bowling centers to reopen. 

The movement, he said, was started by professional bowler Rick Hamlin, who not only organized rallies in Sacramento, but gave attendees bowling pins to mail to the state governor—Stever did the same.

“It’s a 3 1/2 pound pin, and bowling centers across the state are doing this so that the governor knows bowling exists and we’re here waiting. It’s just strange to me that some businesses, which don’t seem to be any safer than our business, get to open because we were really strict about the guidelines, and we’re taking this very seriously,” he said. 

Stever, Richard, and Norma all agree that Rancho Bowl offered the community a place to be social, to enjoy friends, and to create family memories. 

It was also a place for Richard, a Vietnam Army veteran who suffers from mild post-traumatic stress disorder, to stay busy. Spending time at the bowling alley kept him active, Norma said, and helped him cope with his symptoms. 

“Thankfully we’ve found other ways to keep busy, but not having the bowling alley open is affecting the youth, seniors, and veterans groups that use it daily for social and physical activity,” she said. 

Norma is the secretary for nine bowling leagues including senior leagues. Two summers ago, she said, one member turned 101 years old. 

“Bowling is something you can do from the time you can walk until you can’t walk anymore,” she said.

Richard and Norma said they’re hoping the community at-large does what it can to get to the point when every business and recreational opportunity—indoors and out—can reopen. Norma said it’s a “new normal” that people are going to have to accept and adapt to in order to be around others and do what they love.

“Keep the faith and do what the man tells you to do. If you have to wear a mask, wear a mask. You’re supposed to wash your hands, wash your hands. If you’re suppose to take five showers a day, do what it takes. Don’t fight it,” Richard said. 

Weekly Poll
How did you survive the heat wave?

By staying indoors: This is why I have air conditioning.
I got out in nature (but stayed in the shade, of course).
I enjoyed the Santa Maria pool's first rec swim in more than a year.
I took advantage of the warm evenings and ate outdoors at a local restaurant.

| Poll Results

My 805 Tix - Tickets to upcoming events