Just like automatic ball-return, bowling is back in Decatur.
As Mike Miller says, "Villa Lanes is bowling in Decatur."
Miller, who was born in 1960, the same year that Villa Lanes was opened by Dick Mies and wife Gwen, is the manager of the revived and redone Villa Lanes on US 224 West and its adjoining restaurant, Molly's Place.
Two Decatur businessmen, Dan Evans of Custom Car Care and Josh Krueckeberg of Krueckeberg Auction and Realty, recently purchased the site, which had been closed for more than three years, and are having it reconditioned and improved.
They hired Miller to operate the business, which is planned to reopen late in August, with perhaps as many as 25 employees. A grand opening event will be held in September.
"Decatur needs something like this," said Miller, who grew up as an avid bowler because his parents and brothers were active. His father, Harold Miller, is a former mayor of Decatur.
In fact, Miller said Krueckeberg and Evans hired him because of his love for the sport and the fun of bowling.
The first thing the new owners did was bring back the old names: Villa Lanes, named by Dick Mies because he graduated from Villanova University in Philadelphia, and Molly's Place, which carries the nickname of Mies' father, Cal Mies, who established the first bowling alley in Decatur in the downtown area in the mid-1930s. Both of the Mieses were topnotch bowlers.
Dick Mies died a few years ago, but Evans, Krueckeberg, and Miller said they will invite Gwen Mies to the ceremony that reopens the side-by-side businesses.
Miller said the reconstituted Villa Lanes will be "a total recreational and entertainment center, with something for every age group to do here."
Aside from fixing up the alleys and refinishing the wooden lanes, a new roof is being put on the building, insulation is being installed, and other improvements are being made.
A banquet room will can hold 100 to 120 people and is suitable for parties, reunions, meetings, receptions, etc.
Bands and disk jockeys will be invited to perform and comedians will also be brought in, according to Miller.
A game room will be set up, with video games and a large television screen, perhaps 100 inches. Connections will be available for Wii and Xbox game systems, among otthers.
Fall bowling leagues are being created now.
Molly's Place will specialize in American, Mexican, and Italian foods.
For more information, call Miller, 692-2405, or contact this e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org.