Trying to bowl them over

Published 9:14 pm Tuesday, September 30, 2008

FRANKLIN—For Kathleen Perry, bowling is all about family.

When the former Maryland resident came to Franklin last April to take over the old Playtoe Bowl on Armory Drive, she wanted to make it a place where couples could bring their children, where families came to eat dinner and bowl and where people could have some good, clean fun.

“That’s our motto,” Perry said, pointing to a massive mural on the east wall of the building. “We are ‘first in family fun.’”

Besides the massive renovations that have occurred at the now-named Franklin Bowling Center, Perry has enhanced all of the walls with colorful paintings by 57-year-old George Joyner of Sedley.

Joyner, who lost his arm in an accident in 1984, began painting in August at the center and Perry let him paint whatever he saw fit.

On one wall, a massive mural depicts bowling pins and a ball surrounded by stars. On the other, the bowling center’s motto “First in Family Fun” is painted. Joyner cleverly disguised panels and fire alarms by including them in the space and bowling themes.

The only direction Joyner got from Perry was that there be some kind of bowling art.

“She’s a good, sweet lady,” Joyner said about Perry. “She gave me free rein and I was really pleased how it came out.”

Joyner spent full days for two to three weeks painting the murals in the 2,700 square- foot facility. He did most of the painting by hand.

“I sketch very little,” he said. “I get a vision and I just do it. I’m blessed to be an artist.”

The 32-lane center was renovated from top to bottom.

“We put in all new heating and air-conditioning,” Perry said. “We have new pins and new machines, ice machines and pizza ovens.”

When asked what the renovations cost, she said with a laugh, “We don’t even want to talk about that.”

The new owners also fixed drywall, the ceiling and took carpeting off the walls. The disco lighting was updated as well.

“It was a very nice center, but it was dated,” Perry said.

In a corner of the building, Perry has added an all-new gameroom, which houses a dancing game that was just put in this week.

Fourteen video games, an air hockey table and brand-new pool table make up the offerings.

The center also has a pro shop where bowlers can buy equipment that is measured to fit them.

Just inside the front door, a café serves daily lunch and dinner specials. Every Friday night, patrons come in to sing karaoke.

“My goal is to have a sports bar in there,” Perry said.

The center pipes in music, everything from oldies to kid-friendly tunes. Perry said she uses a station that even takes song requests.

“The music we play really depends on the time of day,” Perry said. “When the senior leagues start, I’m going to play big band music. I have a ladies group and they request the cupid slide and the cha cha slide. They’re down there bowling and dancing.”

From 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, the bowling center is smoke-free.

“We wanted to make it family and youth friendly,” she said.

Additional renovations include turning a former large storage room into a meeting/party area.