The Village of Lewiston's bowling alley is about to get an upgrade.
Emery Simon and Harold Hibbard recently purchased Frontier Lanes. They have renamed it the Lewiston Event Center, and plan to make full use of the almost three-acre property.
"I grew up in this town; he grew up in this town. I was here when I was kid. Everybody you talk to had something to say about this bowling alley when they were younger - whether it's the bar or the bowling," Hibbard said.
"But it's been forgotten," Simon added.
He said some people have driven past Frontier Lanes without a thought as to what a happening place it was - and can be once again.
"We want to bring it back to what it was," Simon said, as he pointed to historic pictures on the wall showing a full parking lot.
The first part of the development plan is now under way. Trees and debris have been removed, while more lights have been installed outside.
"We're going to start in certain areas," Hibbard said. "We're going to just start upgrading. And the first area we're going to upgrade is the bar.
"When we first talked, we were going to pull the pool tables out of here. We had no idea there was a pool league that played here Thursday nights. It's a pretty big draw. ... So now we're going to upgrade the bar and make a place for the pool tables."
"We've talked about getting a dart league here," Simon noted. "Get a couple more boards and get a dart league going. We want to make it so it's not just a bowling alley."
Of course, the Lewiston Event Center still will welcome keglers.
"We don't feel like bowling is dead," Hibbard said. "I think there's an opportunity with bowling. I was in Springville bowling yesterday. The places were packed. Bowling is still a pretty popular sport.
"The problem with this place is, I think, that some of the people that came here just moved on. They went to different places. People from Lewiston are driving to Niagara Falls."
"We're saving bowling," Simon said.
For the Simon Construction Co. proprietor, the purchase wasn't about making money.
"For me, it was saving a piece of history for Lewiston," he said. "That's what we did with the Stone House; it's what we did with John Kinney with the 'Bloody Bucket.' We're saving the history of the community."
"We help save buildings," said Christina Crane, manager of new business development for Simon Construction Co.
"Preserve history, preserve the business, preserve jobs," Simon said.
Simon and Hibbard, who opened the Hibbard's Custard restaurant last summer, plan to offer birthday parties for children, holiday parties for adults, corporate events, live music and comfortable seating for televised football games.
"There's something here for every age group," Hibbard said.
Simon and Hibbard plan to retain Frontier Lanes' dozen-plus employees.
"We're fortunate to go into a business that has (good employees)," Simon said.
The Gwin family owned Frontier Lanes for 54 years.
"I think the place is in good hands," Dana Gwin said of the acquisition. He said Simon and Hibbard have "great plans" and he foresees a "positive future" for the bowling alley.
"We will constantly be working to upgrade the place," Simon said.
Frontier Lanes first opened to the public on Sept. 1, 1958.