The pins are dropping again at one of Portland's only remaining bowling alleys.
Central Bowl officially welcomed back customers for indoor games, including access to its arcade, last week. To comply with the Oregon Health Authority's COVID-19 guidelines, guest capacity is capped at 50. Reservations are required to bowl, and currently only eight of the venue's 12 lanes are available in order to spread groups out.
While sticking your fingers into a communal ball might sound like a questionable activity during a pandemic, Central Bowl says it has used its downtime to implement additional safety measures.
For instance, the bowling balls are sanitized—inside and out—before and after every use, with a chlorine-based solution. Shoes go through a similar cleaning process.
Longtime fans of the Southeast Morrison Street alley may better know it as Grand Central Restaurant & Bowling Lounge. The business rebranded as Central Bowl, Arcade & Food Hall last October to coincide with the launch of six virtual restaurants that all share the same kitchen and could be accessed through one website. Online orders are still available, but you can now dine in as well.
Like other entertainment venues, bowling alleys have been hit particularly hard during the pandemic. They've been forced to remain closed for much of the past year, which has taken out a couple of old-school businesses, like Kellogg Bowl in Milwaukie.
That's a blow to fans of the sport who used to have an abundance of venues to choose from in Portland that have since been taken over by big box stores or developers, like the old AMF Pro 300 Lanes on Southeast Powell Boulevard and the beloved Hollywood Bowl on Northeast Halsey Street.
Fortunately, other independent alleys in the cities surrounding Portland have been able to stick it out, including Milwaukie Bowl, Tigard Bowl and Walnut City Lanes in McMinnville.