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Canada’s oldest bowling alley hopes younger clientele will help it survive COVID-19

Last Updated Jun 12, 2020 at 9:29 pm PDT

Summary

The below-ground bowling alley on Granville opened its doors in 1930, as 'a place where pleasant days may be spent'

Like other businesses, the pandemic shut it down for months, and its capacity is reduced now that it is reopened

VANCOUVER (CityNews) — Commodore Bowling and Billiards has been open for 90 years, and its manager hopes it will make it to 100 in spite of COVID-19.

When the below-ground bowling alley on the Granville strip opened its doors in 1930 it billed itself as “A place where pleasant days may be spent.”

Like many businesses it was shut down by COVID-19 and has reopened with a reduced capacity.

Manager Ken Hayden says every second lane is now empty, and he estimates business has dropped off by 80 per cent.

“Things have been very slow,” he says.

“A big chunk of our customers are seniors and they’ve been bowling with me for like 40 years. A lot of them are more like friends than they are like customers.”

Plexiglass barriers have been installed and disinfecting of surfaces and bowling balls has been ramped up, but Hayden understands why some people over 65 still may not feel safe socializing.

“Hopefully we can encourage more people to come so we can pay the bills,” he says.

“We definitely want to make it to 100. That’ll be quite a celebration. The last thing we want is to see this bowling centre not able to survive.”

Hayden’s hoping to see a bump in business from small groups, families and young people –like 20-year-old Victoria Porter who was celebrating her birthday at Commodore.

“There aren’t too many things you can do for your birthday right now that are indoors, that you can go out and do that aren’t at home. This place is great,” she says.