Monday, November 20, 2006

bowling center reviews - Albany Bowl

We've been trying out various bowling lanes in the SF Bay area. My sister thought it would be a good idea to review them and of course post them up. Anything to keep the fingers tip-tapping on this blog.

The review will cover:

  • friendliness/responsiveness of staff
  • friendliness of bowlers
  • lane conditions
  • scoring panel
  • environment/atmosphere
  • snack bar
  • bar
  • bowling pro shop

I'll give ratings from lowest to highest: open frame, split, spare, strike, turkey (three strikes in a row).

Albany Bowl
hrs: Mon - Tue - Fri - Sat 9:00am - 2:00am

Wed - Thur - Sun 9:00am - 1:00am
540 San Pablo Ave, Albany
40 synthetic lanes, best time to go weekend mornings not so crowded, MTu after 9p for $2 games

I'm a bit partial to these lanes since these are our home lanes for league. The staff here are supernice and so are the bowlers. I've witnessed more than once a seasoned bowler practicing on one lane train some uber-newbies they've never met on the neighboring lane. Before long the newbies are rolling a strike or two. If you want to learn to bowl and you want advice, this is the place to go. League is like that too with teams cheering each other on.

The approach on the lanes seem shorter than most and I'm not sure if that's just an illusion or not, but certainly it's tough to slide on the approach. Some regulars even powder their soles. The lanes in the back seem to break down more often than they should. Afternoon weekends are packed with kiddie pizza parties with videos of Sponge Bob playing under the black light and disco balls. The scoring panels have nice animated graphics. Before you bowl ask the front desk to add games of poker, slots or tic-tac-toe which get activated every time someone hits a strike or a spare. Our favorite is poker.

The bar is small, but decent and waitresses walk the lanes to take drink orders. The snack bar, along with the usual fried fair also has thai rice dishes and dinner specials. Get the large Thai ice tea for $3 and the plate of fried calamari. Dean Asami runs one of the best Pro shops around with plenty of display space to try on a pair of shoes, pick up a towel, try out a new bag. If you don't know what to buy, Dean can take a look at your game and suggest a thing or two. Plus, if you buy your ball through him you can get your ball repolished there for free. He's usually open weekdays in the afternoon and evenings.

Albany Bowl is one of the busiest bowling lanes in Northern California, so you need to time when you go there. Else you get caught dancing the cha-cha slide with the giant walking bowling pin during the kiddie parties.

  • friendliness/responsiveness of staff - turkey
  • friendliness of bowlers - turkey
  • lane conditions - spare
  • scoring panel - spare
  • environment/atmosphere - spare
  • snack bar - strike
  • bar - spare
  • bowling pro shop - turkey
  • Overall - strike

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