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Pali Lanes: Strike Out or Spared

By: Mathew Vasconcellos

25 October 2020

Bowling lanes at Pali Lanes, located in Kailua, Hawaii. (Mathew Vasconcellos)

Pali Lanes Bowling Alley has been a part of Kailua since 1961.

It’s a reminder of the old days before tourism.  Birthday parties, gym classes at Kailua Intermediate School, and league games have taken place at this community bowling alley.  Due to the second shutdown ordered by Oahu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, Pali Lanes could be no more if nothing is done.  I spoke via Zoom to Christian Arakawa, president of Team Save Pali Lanes, and asked about his take on the frustrations of keeping Pali Lanes open from the two shutdowns.

“We were open for only six weeks, and then we were forced to close.  The city had sent no inspector -- we were pissed with that... they made the decision,” said Arakawa in a Zoom interview in September.  “At the time, gyms were allowed to stay open and gyms had over two dozen COVID cases that were related to gyms while bowling alleys had none.”

Arakawa exhausted all possibilities with social media while trying to save the bowling alley.  He’s frustrated.

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“We have our shirts; we have our stickers,” said Arakawa referring to other efforts to gain support.  “At one point – I’m so glad we didn’t do this – this was in January or February – the committee was going to do an ad campaign on the radio, and that would’ve cost us $3- $4,000.  I am so glad that we chose not to do it because it would’ve been horrible timing.  Those ads would’ve run between March and April, and we were closed.”

On Thursday, Sept 24, Pali Lanes finally reopened after four weeks due to the second stay-at-home order.  In “Tier 1” of the reopening phase you can go in groups of five or less; league play is also not allowed until further notice, or Pali Lanes risks paying a fine big enough to force its closure.

Although Pali Lanes has remained open, the snack bar struck out in April 2019.

On the verge of shutdown, Pali Lanes remains open in Kailua, HI. (Mathew Vasconcellos)

“Right now, we’re looking to bring in more options or vendors,” Arakawa said.  “We had someone contact us about bringing in a coffee cart, or coffee trailer to rent out a stall incidentally...”

Despite Arakawa’s efforts and the re-opening, if business doesn’t improve after October it may be game over for Pali Lanes.

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