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A final farewell to Sunset Bowl

Posted by Geeky Swedes on January 20th, 2010

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.”

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99 reader comments so far ↓

  • 1 xtevex // Jan 21, 2010 at 12:41 am

    “so nice to hear they suddenly care. screw them, and when and if ever there is “retail” there, feel free to not support it with any of your dollars.”

    Yes, because if it's a locally owned store they should be made to pay for things totally beyond their control.

    Good to see the comments here are as well-informed as ever.

  • 2 ScottieYahtzee // Jan 21, 2010 at 12:48 am

    I miss Dawn! :-( And everyone else there of course!

  • 3 Bark more, Wag Less // Jan 21, 2010 at 12:49 am

    Who is 'we'? I believe this is private property, which like yours, does not involve any 'we'.

  • 4 jakqueen // Jan 21, 2010 at 2:13 am

    YOU NOW HAVE NOTHING LEFT FOR KIDS TO DO IN BALLARD NO BOWLLING,NO ROLLER SKATEING, WHAT DO YOU EXPECT KIDS TO DO NOW WALK THE STREETS AND HANG OUT AT 7-11 I WAS RASIED IN BALLARD IN THE 70S AND THERE WAS ALWAYS SOME PLACE TO GOAND TO DO. I DONT WANT TO SEE MORE KIDS ON THE STREETS FOR EASY PREY FOR DRUG DEALERS AND SEX PRETORS WHAT A SHAME

  • 5 Bark more, Wag Less // Jan 21, 2010 at 2:40 am

    “they are demolishing our building”

    'Our' building? Are you one of the owners?

    Can I claim your property as part of this mysterious 'collective' you talk about? Let me know, I'd love to take some of your stuff.

  • 6 Bark more, Wag Less // Jan 21, 2010 at 2:42 am

    Wow, bitter much?

    Again, it was your boss who sold out, took 10 million and is enjoying life. Go complain to him.

  • 7 SPG // Jan 21, 2010 at 3:17 am

    Ah, but they're not putting in anything actually. At least not right now due to “the economy” this will be a vacant lot and artists rendering for some time.

    I'd rather be bowling.

  • 8 SPG // Jan 21, 2010 at 3:27 am

    TITTYCOUGH, You call this progress? We lose a bowling alley and a dozen jobs for a vacant lot?

  • 9 SPG // Jan 21, 2010 at 3:29 am

    But we, the community no longer have a place to bowl. It was a fun place and you should have gone there while you could.

  • 10 SPG // Jan 21, 2010 at 3:30 am

    $$$$$$$$ $$$$$ $$$$$$$ $$$$$$$$ $$$$$ $ $$$$$$$ $$$$$$$$$, $$$$$ $$ $$$$$ $$$$$$$$ $$$$$$ $$$$$$$. $$$$$$$ $$$$$, $$$$$, $$$$$, $$$$$$$$ $$$$ $$ $$$$$$$$$$$ $$$$$$.

  • 11 SPG // Jan 21, 2010 at 3:32 am

    I think your caps lock key is stuck and your spell check is off.

  • 12 Bum Crisis 2010 // Jan 21, 2010 at 3:36 am

    They don't want to bowl like the kids from American Graffiti. They wanna blow stuff up and remove the head of their enemy. Bowling is antique in the eyes of young Ballard Beavers.

  • 13 Thizzle WA // Jan 21, 2010 at 3:40 am

    When your kids tell you they are going bowling, they are just going to do drugs. Now they will have to make up another activity to tell you.

  • 14 Thizz Nation // Jan 21, 2010 at 3:44 am

    Guitar Hero isn't played on a computer…and its pretty damn fun.

  • 15 Bark more, Wag Less // Jan 21, 2010 at 3:46 am

    Well, you should have opened your check books and bought it. Then you could say 'we' to your hearts content.

  • 16 Bark more, Wag Less // Jan 21, 2010 at 3:49 am

    Too much bowling, not enough studying.

  • 17 Name // Jan 21, 2010 at 3:59 am

    I bowl on my Wii

  • 18 rclancy // Jan 21, 2010 at 4:07 am

    i will slowly try to explain it to you, barky. the difference is thousands of folks in our community haven't come over to my place and many folks haven't worked in it for over 50 years because it is not set up as a public entertainment and social venue. i am not ineterested in taking anyone's stuff either. the developer says he is acting because “the neighborhood asked him.” despite the likely disingenuousness (look the word up) reason used, even the developer thinks the “collective” interests @ stake warrant some respect. understand?

  • 19 Bark more, Wag Less // Jan 21, 2010 at 4:46 am

    ” public entertainment “

    But it wasn't public entertainment, it was private entertainment and the owners, Ballard residents for several generations, closed it and sold it. They are the ones responsible for this turn of events. no one else is to blame, only them.

    Want to blame anyone? Blame any person in Ballard who sold their property for a profit….seems to be a lot of them around.

  • 20 boardbrown // Jan 21, 2010 at 5:11 am

    …but only when you're sober!

  • 21 squidincdesign // Jan 21, 2010 at 5:12 am

    I'm sorry to hear about all the fighting over this. The sunset bowl's loss was a sad sad thing. But it happened over a year ago. I work in the Ballard Market annex right across the street from the building and ever since the close we've had to see drunken fights, drug deals, people sh*ting on the sidewalk, pissing on our back door. I can't park my car near our office anymore because I would get harassed every time I got to work or left. Yes, today they knocked the building down, but it's not like they were going to reopen sunset bowl. Yes, there will be an empty lot, but how much worse is that than watching a once-great place get vandalized and pissed on and make our neighborhood unsafe for years to come until they decide to build? I sympathize with those to whom the sunset bowl was a second home, but we should remember it as it was, not as an eyesore.

  • 22 rynkat // Jan 21, 2010 at 5:16 am

    Thanks for the memories! I'll miss you Sunset Bowl!

  • 23 ILoveBallard // Jan 21, 2010 at 5:36 am

    This is very sad. Not so much the actual demolition (as the building had become derelict), but the loss of the bowling alley, the community it generated and the old-fashioned, curmudgeonly charm of Ballard. And for those of you in condos – of course you aren't all assholes, but a lot of you appear to be. There is a certain attitude that has permeated Ballard, and I would simply name it “entitled”. If you are new to a neighborhood, try fitting into it rather than expecting it to make room for you. Try waving when someone waits for you to drive past – particularly now that there are so many more cars; try saying hello to the few elderly people left in this neighborhood; try having a sense of humor; and try not to blame the derelict building that was Sunset Bowl for the drug trafficking and homelessness in this neighborhood. While you are right that “Condo Overlords” didn't force the owners of the bowling alley to sell, nor force the owners of the countless houses that have disappeared and been replaced with singularly ugly and poorly constructed “townhomes”, the contractors and city of Seattle have managed to make it pretty hard for people to turn down the offers. Who can afford to pass up the huge amounts of extra money being offered?
    The drug trafficking has to do with demand – and there is a upwardly-mobile, heavy-partying, crowd in Ballard now. A little northern Bell Town. And the homeless people hanging around abandoned buildings – where the hell else are they supposed to go? Don't be smug and judgemental – look out for someone else.

  • 24 Ryan // Jan 21, 2010 at 5:36 am

    I am pretty sure you can get it at Archie Mcphee's in the Walingford neighborhood.

  • 25 Bjorn Toobiewild // Jan 21, 2010 at 5:46 am

    Do you have any job opening in the sign dept?

  • 26 iLoveBallard // Jan 21, 2010 at 5:47 am

    Cheers! Well put.

  • 27 iLoveBallard // Jan 21, 2010 at 5:52 am

    She doesn't seem bitter – more upset. You really are just enjoying being snarky, aren't you?

  • 28 Bjorn Toobiewild // Jan 21, 2010 at 5:53 am

    Ya, it's played on a little toy guitar and plugged into Playstation3, Nintendo Wii or Xbox 360 computers.

  • 29 tiktok // Jan 21, 2010 at 6:41 am

    “You the community” were unwilling to pay the bowling fees required to make it worth “they the owners” time to run the place as a bowling alley.

  • 30 tiktok // Jan 21, 2010 at 6:42 am

    Maybe they could go to the library and read a book?

  • 31 tiktok // Jan 21, 2010 at 6:47 am

    The sense of entitlement appears to be from…people who already live here. Pass some terribly restrictive zoning laws if you want to keep this from happening. Just be sure that you've already sold out to the highest bidder beforehand.

  • 32 randi // Jan 21, 2010 at 9:23 am

    i miss sunset, dennys, and leilani..all places i spent time at and are dear to me…those places are gone and not easily replaced.

  • 33 Bark more, Wag Less // Jan 21, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    ” try fitting into it rather than expecting it to make room for you”

    Is that what the Indians said to your when you arrived?

  • 34 donarb // Jan 21, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    Actually it is our money. A lot of these speculative real estate ventures are the reason that the taxpayers have had to bail out bank after bank.

  • 35 NoraBell // Jan 21, 2010 at 8:32 pm

    Yeah, Archie McFee's. For sure.

  • 36 SPG // Jan 22, 2010 at 2:19 am

    No, the place was packed and the bar was usually full too on weekends. The bowling alley was very profitable, but not as easy as a quick pile of cash for the land underneath it. The owners decided to get all their money out at once and they profit while the community suffers for their choice. It doesn't mean that we can't mourn the loss that we the community feel just because that's the way it is and the owners are okay with it.

  • 37 98119 // Jan 22, 2010 at 4:20 am

    The last photo sums up the space.

  • 38 jakqueen // Jan 22, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    IF THATS ALL YOU SEE IN MY COMENT THEN YOU DONT GET THE WHOLE PICTURE. I HOPE YOU DONT HAVE KIDS IF YOU DID YOU MITE NO WHAT IAM TALKING ABOUT. I RASIED 3 KIDS IN BALLARD AND I NEW WHERE WHEN AND WHO THey WERE WITH AND HAD PHONE # SO IF ALL YOU CARE ABOUT IS MISPELLED WORDS OR CAPS LOCKED SHAME ON YOU

  • 39 jakqueen // Jan 22, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    you have to much time on you hands if you cant see whats going on

  • 40 rob3rt // Jan 23, 2010 at 4:24 am

    with a salute to DT for the 1st an obviously poignant comment . . .

    but for me, growing up in the midwest –

    bowling alleys do not bring back any good memories

  • 41 SPG // Jan 23, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    I do care about proper spelling, punctuation, and grammar amongst other more important issues. It's a shame that your point, whatever it may be, gets lost in the fury of all caps, misspelled words, and lack of punctuation. I'm hardly perfect in this regard, but I do care enough about my own opinion to put in the effort to get it across in a reasonably understandable way.
    Perhaps you can understand it better with this analogy: If a person comes into the coffee shop smelling of feces and screaming at the top of their lungs the message tends to get ignored because of the delivery. In the online discussion, the ALL CAPS key means you are raising your voice. The inability to use proper grammar and spelling makes your post difficult to read and makes it more likely that your point gets lost because of the delivery.

  • 42 jakqueen // Jan 23, 2010 at 11:22 pm

    what a shame i fill sorry for people like you when there is so much bad going on in the world and all you care about is some one else's spelling.shame,shame.

  • 43 jakqueen // Jan 23, 2010 at 11:27 pm

    thats the only smart thing you have said so far

  • 44 SPG // Jan 24, 2010 at 4:49 am

    J'accuse, I'm very relieved to see that you've turned off the caps lock key. You should however take this opportunity to learn the wonders of the shift key. It allows you to capitalize the first letter of your sentence without capitalizing all the words.
    Tomorrow we can learn about punctuation and the apostrophe. That's going to be fun!

  • 45 SPG // Jan 24, 2010 at 4:55 am

    J'accuse, No need to feel sorry for me or try to shame me. I have many cares, and punctuation and spelling aren't particularly high on the list. My other cares however, are no excuse for me to not even try to spell or communicate properly.

  • 46 jakqueen // Jan 24, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    BITE MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

  • 47 nosense // Jan 24, 2010 at 6:14 pm

    why? They live and work in seattle too.

  • 48 Swede // Jan 24, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    “said to your when you arrived?”
    Yes, that's what they said. After they drank some of my “firewater.”

    Larn to speel, Barky.

  • 49 lsdb // Jan 28, 2010 at 2:37 am

    i worked there doing Karaoke for years, great customers.fun times
    thank you for letting me host that party for all those years
    i did miss you when i left,

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