After sitting dark and vacant for nearly three years, Augusta's Holiday Bowl has a new owner and a new future.
Austin Ottaway, the fifth generation of one of the most successful area business families, signed the final papers and took possession of the facility on Monday.
The 27 year-old is no stranger to the legacy of hard work in the family entertainment business. His grandfather Jerry, who grew up working with his grandfather at Wichita's popular Joyland Amusement Park, has been an active owner and operator of the Carousel Skating Rink in Wichita for over 30 years.
Part of the family's philosophy for years of success has been "build it bigger and better."
Recently Austin was in Augusta seeking advice from local businessman Kelly Modlin about opening a business.
"I was discussing opening a laundromat and just mentioned that some day I might like to open a skating rink or similar business, and Kelly told me he wanted to show me something. Next thing I know we're checking out the bowling alley," he said with a smile.
Plans include total renovation of the building in hopes of opening in December. Just about everything will change but the name. The current bowling lanes and scoring system won't be replaced, but major renovations will be started immediately.
"The kitchen is going to be amazing and we're going to have very, very good food. Larry Burke, former owner of the Copper Oven in Wichita, will be helping us," Austin said.
Plans include lunch from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. 7 days a week.
"We'd love for folks to give us a try after church on Sundays," he added.
The new owner will be a hands-on manager and plans to have a good staff, which will include some local personnel.
The establishment will feature a non-smoking environment and arcade fans will enjoy classic arcade games such as Mario Brothers and Pac Man.
"We're keeping the name "Holiday Bowl" and we'll have a classy nostalgic theme. And we're excited to fix the outside neon sign on the building," Austin shared.
The "new" bowling alley can now be home to the high school bowling team and in January 16-week league play will begin.
Austin advised, "We want them (league players) to give us a try and come back - those who have had to go to El Dorado and Wichita."
His grandfather Jerry stated, "This is such a good opportunity. Very affordable family packages will be offered and everyone will have a chance to enjoy themselves."
Diana Burress, the sales agent with RE/MAX On the Move of Augusta, who handled the transaction, said on Monday, "Austin has such great ideas and plans - this is going to be so good for Augusta."
Page 2 of 2 - For those wishing to sign up for the January bowling leagues are encouraged to drop by the RE/MAX office at 411 State St., and place your name on a list.
Renovation progress and open house announcements will be published later, and Austin plans to post photos on Facebook: www.facebook/com/Holidaybowlks
Augusta's bowling alley was brand new in 1958. It seemed the entire town turned out for the Grand Opening on Aug. 20th that summer. It proved to be a popular spot for residents of all ages.
In less than 10 years' later, in June of 1965, the river breached the stone levee at the south end of State Street and the bowling alley, along with other businesses was flooded. Factory-authorized workmen replaced the lanes and in three months, the bowling alley was back in shape.
Flood waters caused major damage again in the October Flood of 1998. And once more, the Holiday Bowl was rescued - and repaired.
Now with Augusta's new $6.6 million levee complete, Augusta is safe from floods.
And thanks to Austin Ottaway, the Holiday Bowl has been rescued and its future looks bright.