Popular Kanawha County bowling alley may soon close, leaving community members devastated


    Venture Lanes opened in 1956 by Alex Schoenbaum, he died in 1996. The bowling alley was left to his family members who no longer live in the mountain state. (WCHS/WVAH) <p>{/p}

    The clock is ticking for a bowling alley that's been in the St. Albans area for 63 years.

    The founders of Shoney's Restaurant, the Schoenbaum Family owns Venture Lanes and said they plan to sell or close the business which has many families worried.

    "This is something fun, doesn't cost a lot of money," Christy Gabbert of Dunbar said.

    Bowling is a weekly tradition for Gabbert and her granddaughter.

    "We've been coming here for as long as I can remember," Gabbert said.

    But this past week she was hit with a gutter ball, learning Venture Lanes is up for sale and if not purchased by May 19 the lanes will close.

    "Its devastating, not just to me, her or our family but it's devastating to our community," Gabbert said.

    Venture Lanes opened in 1956 by Alex Schoenbaum. The bowling alley was left to his family members who no longer live in the Mountain State.

    The family-owned business said in a letter to customers it would be closing because no Schoenbaum family members are living in West Virginia and it can no longer operate under the family's direct supervision and personal involvement.

    Family friend Ken Rubin is overseeing the operation right now.

    "Even though the family has a lot of ties, and operation is ongoing, there is no one from the family to oversee this operation," Rubin said.

    Rubin said state law requires business owners to live in the state if they operate with a Class A liquor license and video lottery machine.

    Five-year staff member Austin Bowen said he was sad to hear the news.

    "Everybody that I made friends with or have any kind of relationship with I met through this place," Bowen said.

    Bowen said these lanes have become his second home and grew up watching his dad throw strikes and splits at Venture Lanes.

    "I would feel like there is some emptiness inside somewhere like I said, any honor score I've thrown or award I may have achieved was here, so it means a lot," Bowen said.

    But the closing may be spared as Rubin said talks continue with potential buyers, leaving bowlers hopeful they can keep knocking over pins.

    The current asking price for venture lanes is about $1.5 million. The bowling alley will restructure their hours over the next few months and encourage people to check their website or Facebook page.

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