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Bowling Alley ‘Made Best Of Rough Situation’

Pictured is Paul Nocek of Lucky Lanes in Fredonia. Photo by Anthony Dolce

FREDONIA — As local businesses are able to return customers to a percentage of their regular capacity, the flow of both people and revenue has been much-needed for a lot of places.

Lucky Lanes owner Paul Nocek is one of the many business owners happy to see people coming back. COVID-19 guidelines remain in place for his customers and employees to follow, and even if it looks busy when driving by, Lucky Lanes is still operating at a fraction of its capacity.

“It looks busier than it is,” Nocek said. “We’re only allowed to use every other lane, so our peak right now is half full.”

Lucky Lanes still can’t hold a lot of the normal activities usually held there, such as holiday parties, the Special Olympics, family gatherings, or any tournaments at all, but Nocek said that there have still been some groups able to turn up.

“We did squeeze in high school bowling,” Nocek said. “And Unified Bowling is going on now too. That’s something and it definitely helps but the restrictions have been brutal.”

Those restrictions, which consist of being at half capacity using every other lane, mask wearing, and social distancing also includes a closing time, that had been set at 10 p.m., but has since been moved to 11 p.m. every night, which Nocek said has helped the league bowlers who are still coming out. And because of the limited availability of the lanes, Nocek said that he has had to make groups wait, as all of his open lanes are unavailable due to distancing regulations.

“Closing at 10 every night wasn’t fun,” Nocek said. “We had to hurry the league bowlers up to get them through, they’re used to taking their time between rounds but they couldn’t do that. It was rough to say the least.”

As for how rough things have been, Nocek estimated that Lucky Lanes brought in somewhere between a quarter and a third of their yearly revenue, but has noticed more people starting to come out, which is the result of a few factors, including the vaccine availability and a little cabin fever.

“It seems like people are starting to gain a little confidence now that the vaccine is out,” Nocek said. “And I think they’re just tired of it. They’ve been in for a year, all last summer and all through winter. I’m starting to see people come out I haven’t seen since last year, and people bowling in leagues that didn’t last year.”

Through it all though, Nocek said that his customers have been nothing short of amazing, and his employees have been even better. As all employees working in the middle of the pandemic have had to go through, Nocek’s employees have done an excellent job of keeping up with the ever changing regulations being put in place by New York State, while Nocek has been doing his best to keep everyone that has come into Lucky Lanes safe from the COVID-19 virus. Nocek also noted that his customers’ understanding of regulations have helped as well.

“We did what we had to, we followed the rules, and we’ve made the best of a rough situation,” Nocek said. “The employees have been working hard to make sure everyone is safe, and yet people can still come in and have fun.”

“We’ve had a few people try not to wear masks,” Nocek continued. “But no one has made things difficult. I don’t want to wear a mask either but we have to do what we can do to be open. They’re thankful we’re able to be open because it’s one of the only things they do to get out of the house.”

Though Lucky Lanes was able to open back up in September, it won’t be until next bowling season that Nocek anticipates he’ll be able to have things back to normal. Nocek is also optimistic that other states opening up more will help set a positive precedent for New York.

“The season is going to be done when things start opening but by fall season, everything should be back to normal,” Nocek said. “I don’t think people want to do this again. I’m hoping that the other states opening up aren’t seeing huge spikes so New York can start opening more too.”

For more information about Lucky Lanes, check their Facebook page, Lucky Lanes Bowling Center Fredonia NY or call them at 716-673-1375.

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