Patterson Bowling Center, a Baltimore institution and longtime home to duckpin bowling, has closed, owner Ken Staub confirmed Saturday.
That afternoon, groups with bowling reservations at the 95-year-old lanes found the building shuttered and a “closed” sign on the door.
“I am heartbroken; this is the oldest duckpin house in existence, but there is nothing I can do about it,” said Staub, 70.
He said the owner of the two-story building, at 2105 Eastern Ave., will finalize its sale this week and that the structure will be converted to 15 apartments.
Staub, who also owns Stoneleigh Lanes on York Road near Towson, bought the Patterson operation in 2016 and gave it a face-lift.
“We put $200,000 into replacing the pinsetters alone because they were in such terrible shape,” he said. “This place is a mainstay; people love it. I tried to buy the building myself, when it went up for sale earlier this year, but I couldn’t raise the money. I am sorry for the industry’s loss.”
The closing caught many would-be bowlers by surprise — including several who said they had confirmed their reservations for Saturday less than 24 hours ago.
Among them was Alisha Hatfield, 37, of Baltimore, who stood on the sidewall frantically texting the parents of 30 children who were on their way to the bowling center to celebrate her daughter Emerson’s sixth birthday.
Emerson had specifically requested that she have her party at the center after accompanying a friend bowling over the summer. But when her parents suggested that the group gather in a nearby park instead, the little girl seemed philosophical.
“As long as she’s with her friends, she’s happy,” said Emerson’s grandmother, Joyce Gomolski, who had driven from Delaware for the party.
Hatfield, on the other hand, was fuming as she waited outside for the arrival of six pizzas that she had ordered delivered to the bowling center.
“I physically came up here yesterday to confirm that we were still on for today,” Hatfield said. “They showed me the area where the party was going to be held. They told me to bring chalk. If they had canceled, I would have been bummed, but I would not have been nearly as livid as I am now. This was a slap in the face.”
An earlier version of this story had an incorrect figure for the price Ken Staub paid to buy the Patterson Bowling Center in 2016. The Baltimore Sun regrets the error.