OCEAN CITY – Many businesses have come and gone in Ocean City over the years, but Ocean Lanes on 72nd Street has remained a staple for locals and tourists alike.
Although some things have changed since it first opened on Sept. 11, 1966, the game, and the memories it creates, remain the same for each generation that visits the establishment.
After reaching its 50th anniversary last weekend, co-owner Craig Smith says the business will continue to focus on its customers.
As many restaurants and outdoor venues wrap up for the summer, Ocean Lanes is just getting started with its busy season.
“So many come here and think that we are a summer operation and bowling centers are just the opposite,” Smith says. “We are busy in the winter time.”
Smith says Ocean Lanes is one of the few establishments other than the movie theaters and a couple of indoor putt-putt courses that can entertain people in Ocean City when the weather gets bad or cold.
“Unfortunately during the summer time, everybody is busy doing everything else,” Smith says. “It’s good for us because it’s our down time, but when it rains it is just a zoo in here.”
The bowling alley, the only one in Ocean City, hosts numerous league programs from September to April.
These leagues include bowlers from all age groups, including seniors and children.
The leagues run on week days and nights and on Saturday mornings for children ages 3 to 20, Smith says.
The youth leagues have between 30 and 50 kids each week depending on the time of year.
This landmark operation is something families and individuals of all ages can enjoy any time of the year, Smith says.
Since he took over, Smith says he continues to see a growing number of regulars at Ocean Lanes for league games.
Although many people have stayed, the bowling alley has seen some changes over the years.
Renovations, updates, and technology have reshaped the venue since 1966.
Additions, such as the snack bar, couches and computers, give the building an updated look.
But Smith says Ocean Lanes continues to be an iconic and nostalgic landmark with a focus on family and fun.
“We enjoy it,” Smith says. “It’s a family operation, and we want to keep it that way. There is really no change.”
Although he has no plans for an anniversary celebration, Smith says he hopes he can continue to provide the same service and entertainment that has brought people back year after year.
Bowling is open to the public from noon until midnight on both weeknights and weekends, except during league bowling times, which are listed online.
The snack bar offers a variety of food and beverages, including wine and beer.
Ocean Lanes hosts birthdays, company parties, lock-ins and school field trips. Anyone interested can reserve a party online or by phone.
Ocean Lanes is open seven days a week, 363 days a year, not including Thanksgiving and Christmas, Smith says.
For more information on Ocean Lanes, its leagues, or its hours, visit oceanlanesocmd.com or call them at 410-524-7550.