After 87 years of owning, operating and living at on Madison Avenue, the Mahall family has turned over the keys.
Three generations of Mahalls have grown the Lakewood landmark from a six-lane bowling alley and event hall in 1924, into today's 20 lane-alley, bar and full-service restaurant.
And now, for the first time, Mahall’s is under the management of a new family.
The new owners, Kelly Flamos and Joe Pavlick, took over last month. They are still developing and finalizing plans for Mahall’s, which will remain a bowling alley and restaurant and keep its historic name, Pavlick said. He and his wife Emily, who is also Flamos’s sister, will live above the bowling alley, just as the Mahall family did for three generations.
“As one big, caring family stepping in for another, we plan to use the deep heritage of this Lakewood landmark for inspiration in defining its future,” Pavlick said.
General manager Sue Shestina is staying on, as are several other longtime employees, said Tom Mahall.
“Part of the selling agreement is that Sue will go with the business,” he said.
After 65 years in the business, Arthur Mahall said he’s ready to retire, and so did Tom, who has been working there with his father for about 35 years.
“We have no problem letting go,” Tom said. “It’s been rough the last four or five years to operate because our clientele has dwindled. There are so many more options for entertainment now.”
“The bowling industry is down 65 percent from its heyday,” Arthur agreed. “The league bowlers were really the main blood of the industry and they’re not as popular as they were. Ten percent of bowling centers close every year from lack of business.”
Tom said they tried bringing in bands, which worked for a while, but the crowds started to dwindle again.
“It got to a point where my father and I were getting to be too old, we had no energy toward it anymore, and we were constantly putting money into it,” he said.
The Mahalls put the building on the market about four and a half years ago, and had two serious buyers interested before the final sale.
Tom said that if Mahall's hadn’t sold, he and his father would have had to shut the place down. But both Tom and Arthur still bowl there, and said the new owners can call them at any time for advice.
“They’re young; they have a lot of energy and a lot of good ideas,” Tom said. “We wish them the best.”
EDITOR'S NOTE: Flamos is the wife of Lakewood Patch Editor Colin McEwen.