OWOSSO — Capitol Bowl rebuilt after a massive fire 14 years ago, but a tiny virus may have spelled the end of the 94-year-old business in downtown Owosso — at least for now.
The building that houses the bowling alley, a restaurant kitchen and bar, 219 S. Washington St., has closed and is for sale for $695,000, according to Realtor Randy Woodworth, who listed the sale for TCF Bank.
Woodworth said he is working with a potential buyer on “a new concept.”
TCF Bank advertised a notice of foreclosure on the property, owned by Trecha Enterprises — for which Theresa Trecha of Owosso is listed as the resident agent, in early November. A mortgage sale was slated for Dec. 16. The bank was seeking $851,000.
The bowling center had been open early this year until Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive orders in March required all non-essential businesses to close because of COVID-19. Bowling alleys were not allowed to reopen until this fall.
Neither the bowling alley’s website nor Facebook page make mention of the facility closing permanently.
The listing for the center notes it is zoned B-3 in the city and totals 28,841 square feet. It sits on 0.53 of an acre. The sale price includes the liquor license.
If the bowling facility does not reopen in some form, the closure would leave Corunna’s Riverbend Bowl, Durand’s HQ Fun Bunker and Chesaning’s Pintown Pizza Lanes as the only bowling alleys in the area.
The Argus-Press left messages for Trecha asking for a comment; none were returned.
Owosso High School athletic director Dallas Lintner said the school is looking into “other venue options” for the Owosso varsity bowling teams to practice and compete this winter.
Lintner said other schools in the Flint Metro Conference are facing similar challenges for bowling and when the bowling season could start is up in the air.
“We’re treading water right now but we are working on a couple of different venues for the kids both to practice and compete,” Lintner said. “Capitol Bowl is not the only bowling center that is shut down right now. There is a little bit of confusion right now as far as where we are going to put all of our athletes once we start competing again.We have a couple of different options for our kids to practice. But the larger picture is getting all of our member schools physically to compete altogether — where that’s all going to work and how it’s going to work with participation.”
Capitol Bowl traces its history to 1926 when Dr. Harold A. Hume opened the original seven-lane bowling alley above the former Capitol Restaurant at the corner of Main and Park streets.
Hume moved the bowling center to its South Washington Street location in 1940 when he also expanded the operation to 12 lanes. The center expanded again to 18 lanes in 1946 and finally to 24 lanes in 1963.
Hume passed away in 1949 and his son Bob ran the center until the 1970s, when the Geiger family purchased the operation. Other owners operated the center after the Geigers, including Community Bowling Centers of Livonia, which sold the facility to the Trechas in February 2004.
Although Capitol Bowl has operated at the same location since 1940, the current structure was only built in 2006 following a fire that destroyed an earlier facility.
Employees at the time said they smelled smoke and evacuated, along with several customers, about 5 p.m. Jan. 19, 2006. More than 100 firefighters from 13 departments battled that blaze. The fire nearly destroyed the JC Penney building to the north as well, but officials credited the building’s “fire wall” and the efforts of area firefighters with saving that structure.
Capitol was operated at the time by the Trecha family: Tom and Diane Trecha, Theresa Trecha and Margaret Trecha. Margaret, the family matriarch, and siblings Tom and Theresa purchased the center via Trecha Enterprises in 2004.
Within weeks of the fire, the family announced their intention to rebuild the facility at the same location. An initial site plan for the site called for a 28,000-square-foot, $2.1 million bowling center and entertainment lounge.
At a groundbreaking event in May that year, the Trechas announced the new facility would open by September 2006.