Mt. Hood Lanes, a modern and updated bowling alley, has already drawn praise
Mt. Hood Lanes opened the same way Eastmont Lanes closed - quietly with little fanfare.
'We opened on a whim. We were going to wait another week or two, but we decided to open the doors and see what happened,' said Manager Doug Greenlee.
What happened was that locals who had been waiting for months to see what had become of the old Eastmont Lanes building, flocked to the 24-lane bowling alley.
The new business opened July 1 in the former home of Eastmont Lanes, a 44-year-old Gresham landmark that closed last June.
Dismay over Eastmont's demise turned to anticipation after the new owners decided to build a smoke-free bowling alley.
'We've been waiting months for this to open,' said Nancy Mikels, a Gresham mother of two who came to Mt. Hood Lanes with her family on Tuesday, July 18. 'I love the fact that it's family oriented. We live up the street, so we couldn't wait for this to open.'
Like a phoenix being reborn, Mt. Hood Lanes sprang to life from the ashes of a completely dismantled Eastmont Lanes.
Debbie Sattergren, league coordinator for Mt. Hood Lanes, witnessed the massive remodel.
'They took it from four walls and a bare floor to this,' Sattergren marvels. 'Now it's so new, so bright and shiny … and so far everyone loves it.'
Bowlers are welcoming Mt. Hood Lanes to Gresham with open arms and kind words.
'We love it. It's awesome to have something like this in the area,' said Sherry Hasson, a Rockwood bowling enthusiast who visited Mt. Hood Lanes earlier this week. 'We couldn't wait for it to open. It's so clean, so nice. This will probably become our new meeting place.'
Long gone is Eastmont's nod to the 1960s, including the walnut brown wall paneling and burnt orange carpet.
The new bowling alley sports an open floor plan with 24 synthetic lanes, real wood approaches, modernized display screens and a color scheme that makes the neon craze of the 1980s seem tame.
There's a snack bar, which takes bowling alley food in a grown-up direction, serving things like French toast, hot cakes and mushroom/Swiss omelets.
There's a pro shop, plush new bowling shoes (available up to an impossibly large men's size 17!) and the 'lava lounge,' a smoke-free lounge run by a former local named Ileene Ayala that offers video poker and the usual assortment of bar fare.
The new lanes are owned by Robert Lamb (of Lamb's Thriftway fame) and regional bowling pro J.P. Muller, who also own Wilsonville Lanes.
Greenlee, who has worked in the bowling business for nearly 30 years, says Gresham is the perfect location for a bowling alley.
'This is a fabulous location with Powell and Burnside so close by,' Greenlee said. 'We just want this to be a really fun place for families to come out and enjoy themselves.'
League bowling isn't as popular as it once was, so many bowling alleys have switched their focus to other populations, namely families with young children and teenagers.
'We're getting Cosmic Bowling and that will be popular for the teens,' Sattergren said. 'I've already heard from many parents who are excited that there's something for the kids to do in town.'
That's not to say that leagues aren't welcome at Mt. Hood Lanes. In fact, Sattergren is in charge of rejuvenating the bowling alley's supply of league members.
'We'll have leagues in here everyday if we need to,' Greenlee said.
A Mt. Hood Juniors League is starting up soon. Interested youngsters should sign up from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 19.