It’s early Sunday morning at Valley Bowl. There’s the smell of bacon cooking and the aroma of coffee brewing scenting the air.
Not what you’d expect to find at a bowling alley.
The clock reads 8:30 a.m. and if you listen closely you’d swear you can hear the echo from a night of Moonlight Bowling that started Saturday night and extended itself into the wee hours of Sunday.
But it’s no echo.
It’s actual bowling.
Between bites of eggs and hash browns, while chewing on toast and jam, bowlers are knocking down tenpins.
It’s an attempt to prove that old adage that says anything can be improved by adding bacon.
More to the point, it’s about finding a breakfast bargain.
From 8 a.m. until noon, Valley Bowl offers a full breakfast (eggs any style, bacon, hash browns, toast and coffee) and three lines of bowling for $6.99. The occasional tournament may squeeze the number of available morning lanes down, but the deal is out there for anyone with an appetite and the urge to pick up the 7-10 split.
As nearly everyone in Valley Bowl on a Sunday morning says, you can’t beat the deal.
Merlene Summers and her family are breakfast and bowling regulars.
“We try to do this at least once a month,” she says between open frames. “We get our whole family together – at least all the family that’s still left in the area.”
Summers watches as her grandson, Alex, 8, rolls a strike. His younger sister, Catie, dressed all in pink, is busy bouncing on laps between frames and her father keeps tracking down her tiny bowling shoes, which she wears strictly on a sometimes basis.
The family is spread over two lanes, with good-natured ribbing going back and forth. For the youngsters, the lane guards are down to keep balls from falling into the gutter – a situation Alex quickly learns to use to his advantage.
Catie, meanwhile, generally dashes off before her ball makes it halfway down the lane – always in search of a new lap or the chance to sing a new song.
It’s clearly a popular outing and the family matriarch is in her element. The smile never leaves the bus driver’s face and her laughter mixes easily with that of youngsters.
“It’s just so much fun to get everyone together,” she said. “The kids are at an age where we all can play and have fun.
“With the economy the way it is, there aren’t a lot of things you can do as a whole family like this anymore. It’s great that there’s something like this that you can still afford to do.”
Between games, the grown-ups order refills on coffee and then it’s on to another game. While the scoring is automatic and appears on the overhead scoreboard, it’s plainly not the object of the exercise.
“We started coming here about nine months ago,” said Darrell Edens, a family friend and bowling regular. “Back in the winter it would get really packed. When the weather gets nicer out and there are more things to do, not so much. But you can’t beat the price.”
For about what you’d pay for the same meal in a breakfast diner, you get your food and a good hour’s worth of bowling – a new twist on the full-meal deal. A national restaurant chain has the Grand Slam breakfast. At Valley Bowl you’ve got a chance to pick up a spare.
Donnie, son of owner Lynn Gregory, says the Sunday morning deal has been a popular one.
“We’ve been doing it for quite a while and it’s been really popular,” he said. “It’s like bowling in general, pretty much an indoor activity. As entertainment goes, you can’t beat the deal.”