With memories of happier times at Sunset Bowl, a group of former employees had the chance to take one last look. “That was our home,” the group told us in anticipation of the demolition, which is planned for later today. Barbara Church, the bar manager at the old bowling alley worked there for more than 30 years. “This place was probably my home away from home for more than half my life,” she says. Others chimed in, “mine too,” “yep, more than half my life.”
Armed with cameras and flashlights, they walked into the gutted building this morning. Once through the door, it was as if they were back in the working bowling alley — they started barking old orders at each other. “Hey! I need help on lane 12!” and “Can someone clean this up!?”
With laughter and teary eyes, they walked around their old home reliving days and nights they’ll never forget.
Some even took souvenirs to remind them of the good old days that they’ll be talking about for years to come. They even got one last photo of employees and family members. Demolition is planned for midday today.
The building has sat empty for more than a year and a half, drawing a transient crowd and becoming a canvas for graffiti. Police frequently patrol the area, especially between Sunset Bowl and Ballard Market (above.) “It’s worse to drive past here and see people standing and using our doors for their restroom and all this other kind of stuff,” former employee Dawn Stewart says.
Derek Bottles with Avalon, the development company who now owns this land, says they don’t have immediate plans to build. It’s kind of how the economy is right now, he explained. When asked why they were taking the building down now, he said, “Because the neighborhood asked us to.”