Everett’s Glacier Lanes closes after mandated shutdown, lack of direction from state
Glacier Lanes, a long standing bowling alley in Everett, has been forced to call it quits after 63 years. The Miller family said state-mandated closures and a lack of direction from elected officials led to the closure.
Tuffy Miller, a member of the family that owns Glacier Lanes, joined KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson Show to talk about the heartbreak of losing the family business.
“We officially closed this past Monday,” Miller said. “We were able to open 20, well, I guess 50% in the restaurant, as of July 1. Bowling, however, was never able to open at all.”
In the most updated reopening plan from the governor’s office, bowling alleys aren’t able to open until Phase 4, Miller says. The family sent multiple letters and emails to the governor, asking someone to come look at the updates the Millers had made to comply with guidelines and social distancing measures, including adding screens.
“Everything we could to try to just have a chance to open, and got no responses,” Miller said. “Eventually, … it’s been about a month that we have been operating the restaurant, we’ve just been losing so much money.”
Glacier Lanes’ business is based on League Bowling, Miller says, which is 36 weeks of the year and typically full. There’s anywhere from 60 to 85 bowlers, multiple times a day, who pay whether they’re there or not.
“When you eliminate that, we eliminated pretty much all of our customer base,” he said.
Miller says he’s tried to get an answer as to why espresso stands can be open, other businesses can be open, but bowling alleys and bars must remain closed.
“We couldn’t open no matter what we did, no matter what precautions we took, and I couldn’t get really a straight answer from anybody, or really a response,” Miller said.
Glacier Lanes is a family owned business, with four generations working at the bowling alley.
“My grandfather, he owned — before he passed years ago — he owned seven [bowling alleys] at a time. This was kind of his passion, and then he had sold them off and had kept Glacier as kind of his baby, I guess. Then my dad, Larry, and his brother Steve, ever since the mid-90s have been … slowly buying it from him, so they were taking over the business.”
Miller says he grew up in the building, often staying late with his dad.
“Some of the senior bowlers that are still there have watched me from the time I was born up until now, and I’m 42. So it really is a second home,” he said.
To have it taken away, Miller says makes him angry.
“It’s a sick feeling, and … I’d be lying if I didn’t say it angers me,” Miller said. “… I just want somebody to look me in the eye and tell me why we weren’t given a chance. What was it with Washington state, with bowling, that it just was so ungodly unsafe to where we couldn’t open?”
“So many of other places that have more occupancy are able to open freely. … I don’t understand why we weren’t deemed essential — to my employees and to me, I thought we were pretty essential,” Miller said. “It angers me. There’s so much history thrown away.”
Now, the Miller family is in the process of selling Glacier Lanes.
“The big problem is what really pushed us to do this, is not only that we have no answers on why this has happened, there’s no direction going forward,” Miller said. “Even if we were to be able to open it 25 or 50%, or whatever this ridiculous phasing program is, whenever that goes back in, we’re looking at at least 2021 and that’s just to open for people to randomly come in.”
“In bowling, the whole dynamic, the entire makeup of our business is we always pride ourselves on family,” he added. “We had to give people a reason to bypass 15 restaurants to come to ours, and it was a family feel. And even going forward now, everyone’s in masks, you look like you’re in a hazmat scenario, it doesn’t get the feeling at all.”
Listen to the Dori Monson Show weekday afternoons from noon – 3 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.