Sonoma County’s Double Decker Lanes being acquired by bowling industry giant Bowlero
Double Decker Lanes, the North Bay’s largest bowling center and family-owned for 47 years, is being purchased by the nation’s biggest operator of such establishments, including two others in the area.
Richmond, Virginia-based Bowlero Corp. on Oct. 26 announced it had entered a definitive agreement to buy the 50-lane facility at 300 Golf Course Road in Rohnert Park. The deal for Double Decker is to close Dec. 12, according to current owner Jim Decker. The sale price wasn’t disclosed.
“The timing is right for my family,” Decker told the North Bay Business Journal.
Decker, who turns 65 soon, took over the business 30 years ago after the death of his father, who started the operation in 1975. The longtime general manager is planning to retire, and Decker’s two sons aren’t interested in running it.
“There is no one to pass the ball to,” he said.
The timing is also right for the business itself, Decker said. After being shut down for 13 months by California coronavirus pandemic restrictions on “nonessential” entertainment businesses, Double Decker Lanes was able to reopen in April 2021.
Business has been booming since, he said.
“Since we reopened, revenues are ahead of what they were before the pandemic,” Decker said.
Bowlero’s financial reports tell a similar tale. Revenue last fiscal year, ended July 3, was nearly $911.7 million, up 130.7% from a year before and 31.4% from fiscal 2019, before the pandemic. Revenue from bowling centers open before the pandemic was up 19.4%.
Bowlero has been interested in Double Decker Lanes for about five years, and this deal has been in the works throughout the summer, Decker said.
The Sonoma County center isn’t the only one Bowlero has been eyeing. Last fiscal year, it acquired 27 centers and built two.
One of those purchased centers was Stars Recreation Center in Solano County, a deal announced nearly a year ago. The 73,000-square-foot facility at 155 Browns Valley Parkway in Vacaville has 40 lanes, two full-service bar and lounge spaces, a 60-game arcade and a pro shop.
Ernie and Ken Sousa opened Stars 24 years ago, and cousin Dan Sousa still owns Napa Bowling Center. The family opened the 32-lane facility in downtown Napa in 1946, relocated it to its current location a year later and then added 27 lanes in the 1960s.
Bowlero in fiscal 2021 acquired 22 centers nationwide and built four, according to company financial reports. In the past four months, it has entered nine definitive agreements and closed on seven of those so far.
The company owns over 300 bowling centers, mostly in the U.S. but with some in Canada and Mexico. It has the largest share of centers — roughly 8% — of the estimated 3,400 independently owned facilities in the U.S.
Bowlero also owns the Bowlmor and AMF brands, the latter of which is what the Petaluma bowling center operates under. In 2019, the company acquired the Professional Bowlers Association.
Jeff Quackenbush covers wine, construction and real estate. Before coming to the Business Journal in 1999, he wrote for Bay City News Service in San Francisco. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 707-521-4256.