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Little known fact about me: When I was in grade school, I competed in a junior bowling league.
Instead of developing my athletic prowess on the soccer field like a lot of my friends, I spent my Saturday mornings in a bowling alley, hurling my Snoopy-themed bowling ball down a lane. And while there were lots of skilled players in our junior bowling league, I will tell you right up front that none of them were on my team.
In fact, my bowling team’s handicap was so high, we actually placed first in the league that year. I still have the oversized, sparkling trophy at home to prove it.
Whether it was my lack of skill (and inability to improve it) or my slight embarassment that a handicap point system was the only reason we won first against an entire league of teams better than us, I packed my ball away in its bag for a long time. Although I would play the occasional game, it didn’t hold the same novelty for me.
It was only after moving to Cleveland that I rediscovered a love for bowling — thanks to Mahall’s 20 Lanes in Lakewood.
Mahall’s is about more than bowling; it’s one of those places that embraces everything I love about the city.
When you walk in, there’s an authentically old-fashioned feel. However, unlike other places that try to be retro because it’s trendy, Mahall’s is vintage because it’s a neighborhood and family business that has been in Lakewood for decades (here’s a Lakewood lore article I enjoyed about its history).
Sure, it may not have the glitz of contemporary, upscale bowling centers. Instead, it’s popular because what you see is what you get — a return to basics, a laidback night of no-frills, inexpensive bowling ($3 per game, $2 for shoes).
The best part of Mahall’s, though, is keeping score by hand. In addition to sharpening my math skills, there is something more rewarding about getting a strike when you have to write it down yourself instead of having an animated bowling ball tell you on the overhead tv.
If you don’t want to bowl, Mahall’s also offers other amenities such as pool tables and a full bar where you can have a few drinks until you’re in the mood to bowl.
Mahall’s has been a popular place for my co-workers’ team outings over the last couple of years. They let us bring in Angelo’s pizza (you can also order delicious food from the bar) and the staff — whether you’re going in a group or just with a friend or two — is always helpful and very nice.
Our most recent team outing at Mahall’s was a few Fridays ago. In addition to a good night of bowling, they had the Indians game playing in the downstairs lanes so we didn’t miss the Tribe’s 9th inning win.
Mahall’s is located at 3200 Madison Ave. in Lakewood and is open 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Wednesday; 10 a.m. to midnight on Thursday; 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday; and Noon to 9 p.m. on Sunday. For more information, including questions about leagues and pricing, call (216) 521-3280.
From Mahall’s to Corner Alley, Cleveland’s assortment of bowling alleys offers something for everyone. Which is your favorite?
- Address: 3200 Madison Ave., Lakewood
- Hours: Monday through Wednesday 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Thursday 10 a.m. to midnight; Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 a.m.; Sunday Noon to 9 p.m.
- Call for more information: (216) 521-3280
- Like Mahall’s 20 Lanes on Facebook