Jonathan Bym | The Robesonian
David McLamb, a worker at the Lumberton Bowling Center, uses a UV wand to sanitize rental bowling balls after customers finished their round on Friday. With the bowling center reopening, cleaning the center has taken on a bigger job for the employees.
LUMBERTON — The thunderous sound of bowling balls rolling down the lanes at the Lumberton Bowling Center returned on Monday for the first time since March when an injunction by a state judge allowed bowling alleys across the state to reopen.
Under the injunction, the bowling centers would have to limit patrons to 50% capacity; require nearly everyone to wear masks; keep one lane open between each group bowling; and sanitize bowling balls and shoes between customer use.
At the Lumberton Bowling Center, owner Scott McLean said his employees spent the time without customers preparing for the return.
“We kind of reassessed the way everything is done, the cleaning procedures, keeping people safe,” McLean said. “All the workers understand when they come to work and they work with customers that they have to wear masks. They’re constantly cleaning and they have to social distance people and keep them spread apart.”
On top of the cleaning that was typical procedure before with the returns of shoes and bowling balls after rounds, workers are Lumberton Bowling Center also use a UV wand to sanitize the rental equipment, among other things.
“We’ve got to make sure we clean up after everybody. We’ve been pretty innovative, we have electrostatic sprayers to clean with,” McLean said. “We have fog machines with disinfectant to clean the game room and the billiard area.”
McLean said with those cleaning procedures in place, local bowling alleys are just as clean as many other businesses.
“It’s been over 100 days. We just hope that we can remain open. I think the bowling centers across the state are really cautious about how they do things,” McLean said. “The governor has kind of made us like we are not a safe place to go, but we are. We are as safe as the rest of them.”
The first week back has been slower than a typical week, according to McLean, but he expects business and the efficiency of the staff with new procedures to pick up.
“People are going to want to know how you do things and make sure it’s clean before you go,” McLean said. “Word of mouth is probably the best of that. We still have limited hours because we’ve got to get used to the way we do everything.”
League play usually has been a major part of the traffic at the bowling center, but McLean said that was shut down in mid-March before the stay-at-home order.
“We’re anticipating starting our leagues back in September. I guess it depends on the maximum number of people you can have here because some of our leagues have 100 people,” he said. “We anticipate September, but we will play it by ear and see what happens.”
All ages frequent the bowling center, and McLean said that youth and senior bowlers were the two demographics that have been the most anxious for the bowling center to reopen.
Given the venerability of seniors with the coronavirus, McLean is expecting a few changes to those senior leagues in the future.
“When we start back we are going to do shifts so there’s not more than 30 at a time in here. I just want to keep everyone safe,” he said.
After working limited hours the first four days, Friday and Saturday the bowling center will be open from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., and then closed for Sunday for McLean to reassess the center’s plan moving forward.
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977 or by email at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.