Why Floor Coverings Matter:
Rolling Out the Red Carpet for Guests at Bowling Centers

Bowling center owners and managers know that to attract customers, and keep them coming back, the bowling centers have to provide a fresh, clean and attractive facility, from the ceiling down to the floors, including the carpeting that covers those floors.
As a partner of Wynnewood Lanes in Ardmore, Pa., since 1977, Tom Thomas understands the importance of having quality carpet in a high-traffic bowling center. In addition to its 24-lanes, the bowling center includes a redemption game room, arcade, snack stand and full bar. Occupying 22,500 square feet, the building is elevated with a parking garage underneath, which adds to the noise that is associated with bowling centers.
“We just installed new carpeting in April, after we had water damage. We selected carpet and padding that would not only look good and feel comfortable to walk on, but would buffer the echoing sounds that come from the bowling lanes,” explained Thomas. “Since we are elevated, our building lacks insulation, so the new carpet and padding has an R-value and provides some insulation.”
Thirty-five leagues plus school and recreation center clubs use the facility each week plus the bowling center hosts open and black light bowling and birthday parties.
“We have a lot going on every day, so it’s important that the facility look clean and neat so that guests feel comfortable being here and will want to come back.”
The continuous carpet on the concourse is multi-colored and decorated with a detail design of the Earth showing the continents. The carpet includes primary colors and spirals, which illuminate with the black lighting. The bar has a complementary confetti design.  Thomas had the stairs that descend from the concourse to the bowling area covered in a contrasting color so that guests could distinguish level changes.  He also wrapped pieces of the stair carpeting around the main counter area in the concourse to tie in the decorating motif. To keep the carpet looking new, Thomas conducts daily inspection and spot clean up.
“People spill things all the time, and pizza, beverages and gum do not hide, and they make the carpet look dingy and dirty if not taken care of immediately,” Thomas acknowledged.  “We inspect each day and spot clean the carpets. We use freeze spray on gum also so that the pieces crumble and can be easily removed. ”  
At Facenda-Whittaker Bowling Lanes in East Norriton, Pa., customers come to enjoy the 50-lane bowling center as well as a full-service restaurant and sports bar plus a game room. Offering league and open bowling, including black light bowling and bumper bowling for children, Facenda welcomes more than 6,000 guests weekly to its 50,000-square-foot facility, most of which is carpeted.
“We have been around for 52 years, and for the first 30 years or so, our philosophy was to get high-quality wool carpet like movie theater carpet,” explained General Manager Anthony Taormina. “But in the last decade or so, we changed philosophy. Now, we get a lower grade carpeting in our sports bar and restaurant and change it every two years.  It works out better for us. The bar doesn’t get the foot traffic like the bowling area, so for two years, it is fine.”
On the high-traffic concourse level, Taormina installed carpet tiles that are embedded with a glow-in-the-dark spiral design that is illuminated during black light bowling.  
“We do not use continuous carpet on the concourse because our concourse is long and narrow, and the continuous carpet would mean that it would have to be cut and seams would be showing and that would not be aesthetically pleasing,” he noted. “The tiles work great because if any food or drink spills or if a few spots become worn, we can lift out the damaged tiles and replace them with new ones.”
As owner and manager of the 38,000-square-foot Park Lanes in Shippensburg, Pa., Dean Johnson oversees a 32-lane bowling center with an arcade, two party rooms, nine batting cages, a 68-seat restaurant, and a lounge equipped with a dance floor and flat-screen TVs.
“We have so much going on in here, but it’s important that our facility always look clean and sharp,” Johnson said. “We have continuous carpeting in the restaurant, lounge and arcade areas. It is more appealing and comfortable for our patrons.”
The areas that are covered at Park Lanes contain a commercial grade, short nap, dark bluish-black-colored carpet with splashes of brighter colors that match the color scheme of the bowling area.  
“Everything comes together in the color scheme. It looks sharp, welcoming and fun, and that is what you want from a family entertainment center.”
Johnson cleans and maintains the carpet in-house. “We inspect and keep the carpet clean.  We have been here 10 years and the carpet still looks great. We want people to be comfortable here, and cleanliness makes a big difference.”
Mary Harrar serves as is executive administrator for the family owned Thunderbird Lanes, three bowling centers located in Willow Grove, Warminster and Northeast Philadelphia, Pa.  More than 5,000 customers bowl at Thunderbird Lanes each week, and the locations host leagues, corporate events, birthday parties, and open and black light bowling. While some might think of carpeting as an afterthought, Harrar believes that the carpeting should be both practical and decorative.
“We have carpeting in the concourse area of each location. The carpets have a bowling ball with ribbons design and the ribbons glow in the dark for black light bowling,” Harrar said.  “Two of our centers have newer carpeting, but all the carpets in all the bowling facilities are professionally cleaned on a regular basis. If your carpet looks dingy, customers think the bowling center is dingy. We want them to see a fun, clean and safe place when they come to our facilities, and carpeting is a detail that needs to be attended to often.”
Frankie McDaniel is general manager of Buffaloe Lanes North in Raleigh, N.C. Along with the 42 bowling lanes, Buffaloe North offers a video game room and designated rooms for birthday parties. The carpet that is in the bowling center reflects the color scheme that is throughout the bowling center.   
“In our party rooms and in the bowling area, we have tiled floors because they are easier to clean, especially with the amount of spills that occur,” McDaniel noted.  “On the concourse, we have continuous carpet that has a black base with bright swirls of primary colors.  To complement and bring out the bright swirls in the carpet, we painted our doors the same colors as some of the swirls.  Everything goes together.”
Buffaloe Lanes North also has a full-service snack stand with seating available in the lobby of the bowling center.  In front of the snack stand, where most food and beverage spills occur, solid carpet tiles that coordinate with the concourse carpet were installed.
“So many spills occur by the snack stand, so if part of the carpet there gets damaged or ruined, we just replace the carpet tiles with new ones,” McDaniel said. “Carpeting is something that customers notice, so it has to be bright, clean and well maintained.  We have professionals come in four to five times per year to clean them thoroughly, and we inspect daily and spot clean so that the carpeting always looks good.”  
Family owned First State Lanes of Wilmington, Del., offers formal leagues and open bowling as well as arcade games, pool tables, a full bar and snack stand.  The bowling center, which is 28,000 square feet, earns more than $1 million annually.
“We have carpet everywhere except for ap-proach areas of the facility and lanes. In those sections, the floors are tiled,” said General Manager Bob Bowers. “Carpet is not something you can put down and forget about. It has to be maintained and always appear clean.  In family places, people notice cleanliness.”
At one time, First Lanes had continuous carpet with the “glow” swirls for black light bowling, but that carpet required constant cleaning, which he and his staff did themselves.  Four years ago, he replaced the continuous carpet with carpet tiles that also contained the glow swirls.  
“It has been so much easier to handle spills and wear.  I just pull up a few tiles and replace them with new ones. The carpet always looks like it is brand new.”  
The speckled glow carpets also adds to the atmosphere when First State hosts its weekend disco nights in the bar area.  
“With the black light and the disco theme, the glow carpeting truly adds atmosphere.  The fun décor brings people in.” –

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