Ball gets rolling again at Dakota Lanes


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This article was published 22/08/2021 (655 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The sound of balls rolling down alleys and pins falling are once again heard at Dakota Lanes.

The third-generation, family-operated business, located upstairs at 1085 St. Mary’s Rd., is welcoming back bowlers of all ages.

Owner Chad Van Dale gradually took over the almost 60-year-old business from his father Donald about five years ago. Van Dale’s sons Tyler and Austin now work with him, and Donald continues to be an active league bowler.

Photo by Andrea Geary
Tyler (left) and Chad Van Dale are pictured at Dakota Lanes in St. Vital. Chad took over running the business from his father, Donald, five years ago.
Photo by Andrea Geary Tyler (left) and Chad Van Dale are pictured at Dakota Lanes in St. Vital. Chad took over running the business from his father, Donald, five years ago.

“I started working here when I was 11,” Van Dale said. “I would empty ashtrays, change towels and reset pins.”

Older bowlers will recall the days of washing and drying their hands on towels and keeping score on paper forms. Now bowlers keep their hands clean with sanitizer and their scores are automatically tallied on a recently upgraded computerized Brunswick score system.

Owing to COVID concerns, plastic partitions divide eating areas for bowlers. Groups are also kept separate by having empty lanes on either side of the one they’re playing on. Van Dale said all balls, tables and chairs are fully sanitized between groups.

While this entails extra work, Van Dale said he believes the strict adherence to sanitation is actually a good thing.

“I’m going to keep doing that forever now,” he said.

Rented bowling shoes are also sanitized after use, as they have always been, but now bowlers at Dakota Lanes have the option of buying a $5 pair of disposable bowling slippers. Van Dale said the slippers can last up to three wears.

After being closed by provincial orders for over nine months, Van Dale is thrilled he can open his doors again. Bookings are open for birthday party packages.

“We give them as much space as they want,” Van Dale said. “It’s very nice to see families coming back.”

He’s offering his usual summertime deal, whereby children can bowl for free with the cost of their shoe rental. As well, a summer discount membership allows up to five people to receive half off their bowling costs and discounts on select food and beverages until Aug. 31.

Van Dale is now working to contact league bowlers who had previously participated in youth, seniors, mixed, men’s and women’s leagues at Dakota Lanes. League play starts in early September and will run until the end of April. Van Dale said COVID uncertainty resulted in about 40 per cent of regular league bowlers not registering to bowl last fall. He’s hopefully that this coming season will be better.

“Before COVID, we had about 800 league bowlers,” he said.

All bowlers must wear masks while moving around the facility, but they can remove masks in their seating areas, when playing and when eating and drinking. Van Dale said the kitchen is open, with pizza and appetizers being the top sellers.

A Bowl Manitoba board member, Van Dale said local bowling lanes owners share information on changing government regulations. Because the businesses also serve food and alcohol, owners must abide by restaurant and liquor rules as well as those relating to indoor entertainment.

He estimates that there are only nine five-pin and three 10-pin bowling lanes now operating in Winnipeg. It’s been a tough go over the past year and a half, and Van Dale credits his wife Carrie with keeping his business afloat by seeking any government funding available.

“She’s done so much work.”

He also thanks St. Vital, Southdale and Island Lakes residents who have supported him and are returning to Dakota Lanes.

“We have a very loyal customer base in this community.”

Andrea Geary is a community correspondent for St. Vital. Email her at

Andrea Geary

Andrea Geary
St. Vital community correspondent

Andrea Geary is a community correspondent for St. Vital and was once the community journalist for The Headliner.

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