Ever since the closure of Needham's beloved Bowlaway in April, there's been a bowling ball-sized hole in town's soul -- and an empty storefront in the heart of downtown.
Now, to the delight of residents and candlepin fans, a new owner says he will reopen the iconic eight-lane alley this Monday at 10 a.m.
Zach Sundberg, whose family has long owned Acton's successful Bowladrome, signed a lease on the space two weeks ago after he was contacted by the building's owner, Nick Coppola.
"He needed someone to run the space," Sundberg said. "And he contacted other bowling people. It's a pretty specialized business."
Sundberg, who will manage the Bowlaway with his wife, Taryn, says he jumped at the chance to make it on his own after years of working for his family at the Bowladrome.
"My family's thrived in Acton for years," he said. "They've survived through good and bad economies over and over. Bowling is kind of a recession-proof business. People tend to stay local when the economy's down."
The news is a bright spot for the region's bowling fans, who mourned the closing this spring of Fairway Bowling in Natick. The Route 9 business is now a pile of rubble.
While there are plans to eventually upgrade and renovate the Needham Bowlaway, patrons attending Monday's opening will find themselves in familiar environs, Sundberg said.
"When we first open, we're keeping things the same. We don't want to mess too much with people's expectations. We're keeping the prices the same. The only change is that we'll be open for longer hours, maybe 60 or 70 a week."
Sundberg said that initially the alley will be staffed by him and his wife, but they may hire another employee if the need arises.
The Bowlaway was built in 1917, making it the oldest in the Boston area.
For more information, visit www.needhambowl.com