Strikehouse Bowl on Whiskey Road held a grand opening Friday evening with owner Robert Dutcher and his family ushering in the new building with a ceremonial roll.
Dutcher put the finishing touches on his new investment with free pizza, soda and T-shirts for customers as they came bustling through the doors waiting for a chance to bowl in one of the first alleys built in the area in years.
“I just want people to know that we're all about community,” Dutcher said, adding he wants to attract young and old bowlers.
Eighty-one-year-old Rita White of Aiken was one of the first bowlers to come shuffling in, hoping to rekindle a love for bowling that started years ago.
“I really wanted to help them initiate the new place and be here for the grand opening,” White said.
Helen Swearingen of Warrenville, a bowler for about 35 years, said the new alley was “wonderful,” adding that Aiken needs more family-oriented activities.
Aiken resident Drew Winburn, age 8, was also excited, saying he was glad the new alley was close to his home.
Dutcher was hoping to open a bowling alley with his father, but he passed away before they could accomplish that goal.
Although his father wasn't there Friday, the first few rolls were done by his family.
“That was kind of to baptize the lanes if you will,” Dutcher said.
He added that he wouldn't close down the lanes on opening day until the last customer left Friday night.
“We want it to be a classy, family-oriented place,” he said. “I've been renovating here for a little over three months now so we've become quite the family over here.”
The original alley, built in 1953 by Tommy Crouch, was established for SRS employees to have a place to go and have a fun.
Dutcher, who works at SRS, hopes to recapture that same popularity and offer local residents friendly competition on the lanes.
Business hours will tentatively be Monday through Thursday from noon to midnight, Friday from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Dutcher said the times may change once he and the staff get a feel of when customers will be coming in to bowl.
He also plants to offer leagues, parties, private events, church or school lock-ins and after school functions.
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