Final frame for Academy Lanes

Last day for bowling at River Heights institution


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Sunday was the last chance to bowl a strike at Academy Lanes.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 29/04/2018 (1790 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Sunday was the last chance to bowl a strike at Academy Lanes.

The five-pin bowling lanes that became a River Heights institution closed its doors for the last time on the building the Britton family had leased for over 30 years.

The final year had been filled with challenges, from initial reports the landlord of the structure had other plans for its future to a search for a new location, all hurdles the family-owned business had marked in countless news stories in the months leading up to its final day.

But Sunday was really the last day, for sure, said owner Todd Britton as the lanes opened up for the final time at 11 a.m.

With firm plans to reopen a new bowling alley with a bigger kitchen and expanded menu this summer in the Polo Park area, the only thing left was to say goodbye, he said.

“It’s a bittersweet day. Lots of memories are coming to mind but we’re also excited for the future,” said Britton, whose family took over the business 35 years ago at its location on 394 Academy Rd.

There were patrons there as soon the doors opened, bidding farewell to the location by rolling strikes, some gutter balls and tipping back pints.

“You can’t beat a few beers and bowling at 11 o’clock on a Sunday morning,” said Ross McKernan, who was at Academy Lanes with his girlfriend, Laura Lazarenko, the grandniece of another institution in the city: former city councillor Harry Lazarenko.

The couple were bowling with McKernan’s fellow countryman Mickey O’Hanlon from Ireland and his Canadian girlfriend Grace Romund, herself a transplant from British Columbia.

None of the four had ever bowled at Academy Lanes before, but were well aware of its status in the city’s pantheon of pastimes. McKernan followed O’Hanlon to Winnipeg from their native Ireland after falling in love with the city when the musical duo were invited to perform at Folklorama.

“We’ve always wanted to, since we moved over here three years ago. It’s our last chance,” said McKernan.

For Britton, the final day was a time to look back on the past.

“For me, this has been a family business and working closely with my family, the thing I probably value the most is growing up and working with my dad, learning from him and being able to spend a lot of time with him, learning the business and working,” said the second-generation owner.

Britton said the bowling lanes his father Brian and his mother Heather took over and turned into a success knit the family together because both he and his younger siblings, a brother and sister, grew up in the business.

Brian Britton, 67, is still the driving force — the kingpin, if you will — behind the business, his son said Sunday.

The family is now working on the final touches to their new location, Uptown Alley at 1301 St. Matthews Ave., in the former S.I.R. building. The Polo Park address has a bigger kitchen, which will allow the new bowling lanes to offer an expanded menu with more options.

Plans are to open sometime in July.

“We have a really huge sense of gratitude with the community and the support they’ve given. We just can’t thank them enough for supporting us through this challenging year and we look forward to serving them in the future in our new digs,” Todd said.


Updated on Sunday, April 29, 2018 10:35 PM CDT: clarifies family took it over

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