LOCKPORT — The doors finally reopened and the familiar sounds of one of the world's oldest sports could be heard in earnest again.
Lockport's historic Allie Brandt Lanes on Lincoln Avenue — closed for exactly five months and one day due to the state's mandated shutdown of businesses due to the COVID-19 Pandemic — has re-opened for business.
Five months and one day? Who's counting?
“I was,” said Brandt's proud owner for the last 12 years, Brian Borowski. who also serves as president of the New York State Bowling Proprietor's Association.
Brandt's was one of an estimated 300 bowling houses throughout the state forced to close its doors by Governor Andrew Cuomo earlier this year, as part of a statewide lockdown.
“It's been a nightmare,” Borowski said. Re-opening the mini golf course attached to his bowling house back on July 6 has helped to curb losses, but nothing beats reopening for business.
“We opened our doors at 12:01 p.m. on and had 25 people come in on a Sunday night and they were all happy to be bowing again,” Borowski said. “We opened at noon (Monday) and within the first hour we had 14 of 18 available lanes open.
Brandt's reopening involves several restrictions imposed by the state, including the first and most important — everyone inside the bowling house must wear a face mask. No exceptions, even if you are not bowling.
Other important restrictions to note that Borowski said Brandt's will abide by include utilizing every other lane. Adjacent lanes cannot be used at the same time, he said. Allie Brandt's features 36 lanes in all, meaning only 18 could be used at one time.
“The governor didn't want anyone just hanging around, so all food and beverage service has to be taken and delivered to the lanes,” Borowski said. Food and beverage accounts for roughly 25 percent of Brandt's income, he added.
“We're asking people at the front counter if they want food and beverages and if they do, we take their order down the lanes to them,” Borowski said.
When bowlers are finished, they're instructed to leave the house bowling balls on the racks, where they are sanitized by staff then returned to the side racks when they dry. Bowling shoes at Brandt's have always been sanitized after use.
Among those taking advantage of Brandt's reopening was Lockport High School bowler Ava Conklin, who was practicing Monday afternoon, along with Lions teammates Dani Jaeger, Cianna Conklin and Peyton Anderson.
“I'm very excited to get my practices back in,” Ava Conklin said. “And I'm excited for the new season coming up in the coming school year.”
Reopening is great news, but owners like Borowski know it's not going to be easy.
“Every day is going to be new learning experience with new obstacles coming our way,” Borowski said. ”We'll just have to address them accordingly and hopefully the governor will have some new and better guidance for us.”
Follow veteran Lockport reporter John D’Onofrio on Twitter with “Good Morning, Lockport” weekday mornings at @JohnD’Onofrio7.