Late last week it looked certain that Hartford's last remaining duckpin bowling center would close, as its owner faced mounting expenses and changing priorities. But one day after a last ditch effort to save Highland Bowl failed, the historic business experienced a dramatic turnaround. WNPR's J Holt was there.
The last news West Hartford resident Rich Stratton had heard about Highland Bowl in Hartford’s West End was that it would be operating under new ownership in July. When he read in a Hartford Courant article on Saturday morning that the final attempt at purchasing the business had fallen through and the machinery was instead being dismantled and sold off for parts, he was shocked.
Rich Stratton: “So I thought I’d come over here and see if it was too late to do something or not.”
At first, it seemed he was indeed too late, as crews from other area bowling centers were already on site to salvage the alley’s equipment. But Highland Bowl owner Todd Turcotte put that operation on hold, and by early afternoon an agreement was in place for the sale of the business.
Todd Turcotte: “It’s better for everybody. Better for the community because they get to save all this stuff, good for us because we get to pay off our debts, and I get to teach somebody something new."
The new business will be a joint venture between Stratton and his son, Tim. Both are Duckpin bowling enthusiasts who bowled in the league here last year.
Rich Stratton: “Fortunately when they were taking stuff apart they didn’t do any major things that would cause huge expense to put it back together. So they’re going to put it back together now and it looks like we’ll be able to save the bowling alley and help the integrity of the neighborhood here, too.”
Some hurdles remain for the Stratton’s, including negotiating a new lease, but they expect that discussion to begin today, and Tim Stratton says that despite the challenges they’re committed to taking over the business.