Bowling coming back to Orillia
Andy and Kathy Rainey, who have spent most of their lives bowling, share a laugh in their newly acquired Memorial Avenue alley. The couple is excited to renovate the facility in the coming weeks and get programming and leagues up and running. ROBERTA BELL - THE PACKET & TIMES
Just when people were starting to accept the fact bowling had gone down the gutter in Orillia, Andy and Kathy Rainey pulled it back out.
The Collingwood couple have purchased the city’s Memorial Avenue bowling alley (formerly Rainbow Lanes) and will be renovating and reopening it as Orillia Bowl next month.
“We’re doing everything we can do to get this bowling alley back open for Orillia and for us,” Andy said.
“It’s going to be a tough go ... We’re not in it for the money. We’re in it for the bowling. We’re in it for the kids ... We’re in it for the seniors to have a place to come in the afternoon.”
Andy, Kathy and their two eldest children are all competitive bowlers and coaches.
Before moving to Collingwood in 1999, the couple ran a youth bowling program in Aylmer. By day, they own a sprinkler business, but had always planned on purchasing and operating a bowling alley in their retirement.
The plan came together a little earlier than they expected.
“You have to really love bowling to run a bowling alley,” said Kathy, who knows first-hand.
Growing up, her dad managed a number of different bowling alleys across southcentral Ontario. She was introduced to the game at age four.
“Bowling is in my family,” she said with a laugh. “Everybody lives and breathes (it).”
Getting Orillia Bowl up and running is going to be a challenge for the couple, who bought the facility for a hefty price from the Toronto-area developer who scooped it up after Rainbow Lanes closed last May.
Immediate renovations are going to run them about $80,000; bringing the building up to fire code is going to be $40,000 alone.
They also plan to replace the carpeting and refinish the 18 wooden lanes.
Not long after, the space will be going “cosmic,” said Kathy, who, along with her husband, wants to see the alley become glow-in-the-dark “as soon as possible.”
And by the fall, they hope to implement a $135,000 computer system for scoring. Until then, scoring will have to to be done by hand — like it was at Rainbow Lanes.
“You’re not going to make millions. You’re going to make a living,” said Kathy. “We hope to make a fun living.”
The Raineys’ deal with the developer closes today.
From here on, they’ll be in the alley most weekdays between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. cleaning and renovating it.
While they know it won’t be completely ready by the end of the month, they are working with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orillia to temporarily open early so it doesn’t miss out on its annual marquee fundraiser, Bowl for Kids Sake.
Once the renovations are complete, the Raineys plan to open Orillia Bowl 10 a.m. until 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10 a.m. until midnight Friday and Saturday.
Bowl for Kids Sake returns
Orillians will once again be bowling for kids’ sake.
The Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) marquee fundraiser is scheduled to take place at Orillia Bowl April 21, 24 and 25 after it kicks off at the Coldwater Bowling Centre April 20.
The opening of Orillia Bowl is “great news for the organization and the community,” said BBBS Orillia executive director James Maxwell.
With the closure of Rainbow Lanes, the agency was concerned it would have to reduce its mentorship programming for at-risk children and youth in the community.
Last year’s event — which also took place in both Coldwater and Orillia — brought out 250 bowlers from various local businesses and community groups, raising more than $30,000 for BBBS.
To register a team, sponsor a lane or get further information, visit bbbsorillia.ca or call 705-325-3151.