It’s been a year since that fateful New Year’s Day fire that decimated the B&B Olympic Bowl in Preston. At first, owners Paul and Shelly Hanson weren’t sure they would rebuild, but then they decided to go for it.
“The last year has been stressful, but has actually gone pretty good,” Paul said.
“Trying to figure this out when we’ve never done it before – that’s been the stressful part. I wish we had the knowledge back in March that we have now,” Shelly added.
Despite the stress of rebuilding from scratch, Paul and Shelly don’t regret it one bit and would do it again in a heartbeat.
The Hansons are getting closer to opening every day. They’re hoping to reopen the bowling alley in the third week of January.
“If it weren’t for the local community, we wouldn’t be rebuilding,” said Paul.
“Everyone’s been so great helping,” Shelly remarked. She especially appreciates the local businesses, such a Morem Electric, Kingsley Mercantile, and the Amish, just to name a few, who have had roles in the rebuilding process. “I’m glad to see them a part of our history.”
Shelly added that she’s had several locals stop by and offer to help put furniture together and install it once it arrives. “I hope they don’t regret offering to help when I call them!” she laughed.
At this point of the building process, most of the major things have been completed. The bowling lanes and machines are installed, the items for the kitchen are still in boxes, but at least they’re in the kitchen area, the bathrooms are almost finished, and some of the dining room décor has been hung. On January 9, the scoring company will install their system and train the Hansons and their employees how to use it.
“There’s going to be stuff a year down the road that we’ll still be finishing up,” Paul explained.
Shelly wouldn’t get too specific on the décor of the bowling alley, but gave a few hints. “I’m trying to center it around what makes Preston, like our history, the bike trail, and the Amish. I’m hoping that will interest people.”
The 2,300-square-foot dining room will have a capacity of 80 people, whereas the previous one could only fit 32. The bar area will seat about 60, over double the size of the former bar, which seated 25. A full audio and sound system has been installed, along with security cameras.
The famous and much missed menu will be close to what it was before the fire, although the Hansons plan to add a few new things, such as gluten-free options, breakfast waffles, and Bridgeman’s ice cream. In addition to the large dining area, customers will be able to pick up their carry-out orders at the new pick-up window.
“It’s going to be a huge learning curve,” Shelly said about reopening with all new equipment. “I’ll miss that security of knowing everyday what we are doing. We’ll have to relearn everything, even the simple things like knowing where the plates are. Hopefully, everybody is really patient with us in the beginning, because we’re not going to be as fast as we were.”
Shelly explained that she’d spoken with other restaurant/bowling alley owners about the learning process. “They said it’ll be tough for the first few weeks, but it will be worth it. We’ll love it once we get used to it.”
Now that the end is in sight, Shelly and Paul are getting excited for their re-opening. “The biggest thing that I miss about it is that we’re about a year behind on the local gossip,” Paul chuckled.
“I really miss the talks with people who came in everyday,” Shelly reminisced. “You get to know the regulars.”
Although they’re rebuilding, the pain of the day the bowling alley burned down is still fresh in Paul and Shelly’s minds. “We’re in a good place now, but it’s still hard to think back to that day. It still seems like it didn’t even happen. How could something like that happen to you, you know?” Shelly expressed.
Paul agreed with his wife’s sentiments. “It still brings back tears,” he added.
“We’re ready to move on, though,” Shelly remarked. “We have a lot of things coming up.”
On the schedule for the bowling alley is the 17th Annual Scotch Doubles Tournament which starts on February 25 and runs through March 12. The Senior Traveling League will be held on February 10 and is open to anybody age 50 or over. A date hasn’t been set for the annual Fireman’s Tournament yet, but it’s in the works.
“We’re starting to form leagues now. We looking for the old teams back and for new ones,” Shelly commented. “We’d definitely like to see something to get kids back into bowling too.”
“Bowling’s something you can do your whole life, not just in high school,” Paul pointed out, adding that coaches are available to help learn techniques.
Paul and Shelly are currently accepting applications for employment at the B&B Olympic Bowl. Persons interested can call Shelly at (507) 251-7590, message her on the B&B Olympic Bowl’s Facebook page or contact her at bandbbowlandrestaurant.com.