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Folsom Lake Bowl owner Strikes back

Longtime family-owned business undeterred by competition
By: Tim Menicutch Telegraph Editor
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Folsom Lake Bowl co-owner and manager Dan Dreher doesn’t care how many Strikes the competition rolls at him. Dreher believes his 30-year family-owned business will prevail when the final score is tallied in the battle for the bowling buck in Folsom. And with a proposed Strikes bowling alley – already a big hit in Rocklin – preparing the paperwork for an invasion of Folsom territory in the old Ralphs building on Blue Ravine Boulevard, Dreher knows it’s game on. “Everybody’s comparing us to Strikes as old versus new,” Dreher said. “But Folsom Lake Bowl isn’t some old supermarket. We have everything and more than what Strikes is going to have.” In the last five years, Folsom Lake Bowl has upgraded nearly everything inside its 50-year-old building, adding new synthetic lanes and approaches, a state-of-the-art $30,000 lane oil machine, completely remodeled bathrooms, a new roof, new carpet, more than 20 plasma TVs and a new sound system. “My guess is that Strikes will bring in refurbished equipment,” Dreher said. “And then they will put it in an old building that was built as a grocery store.” Obviously Dreher has paid close attention to the buzz created by the proposed Strikes. One of the biggest complaints he’s heard about Folsom Lake Bowl is that it looks old and rundown from a street-side view on East Bidwell. Not for long, he said. The Dreher family already has the blueprints drawn up for a half-million dollar outside renovation, scheduled to be completed early next year. “We have a bowling alley here now,” Dreher said. “And when we are done with the renovations, it’s going to be a whole new bowling alley.” Dreher points out other advantages he believes his bowling alley boasts when compared to the proposed competition, starting with price. Folsom Lake Bowl charges $2 per game weekdays and $3.50 per game during peak hours, weekends and holidays. There is also a summer special from 10 a.m. to noon weekdays at $1 per game. The Strikes in Rocklin charges $2.50 per game for weekday bowling and up to $7 per game during peak hours. “We’re going to maintain our lower prices – guaranteed,” Dreher said. There has been heavy opposition to the proposed location for the Strikes from some residents in the nearby neighborhood of Briggs Ranch. Most of their concerns center on Strikes bar, which in Rocklin includes a daily "Happy Hour" and weekend live entertainment. “The definition of 'Happy Hour' is to serve as much alcohol to as many people as possible,” said concerned Folsom resident John Alaimo in a letter to The Telegraph. “The time for this ‘fun, family affair’ is usually between 4-7 p.m. Then everybody drives home. Nice, isn’t it?” Dreher points out that one of multiple bars at the Strikes in Rocklin is right in the middle of the bowling alleys. “We’re more of a family entertainment center than Strikes is. We don’t have a bar in the middle of our bowling alley,” Dreher said. “We don’t even have a ‘Happy Hour.’” Dreher stressed that the Folsom Lake bar/casino is completely separated from the bowling alley, and he said that’s by design. “The bar is not even visible from the bowling lanes,” Dreher said. “We even have dark tinted glass on the door for the entrance to the bar so kids can’t stand outside and look in.” To put an exclamation point on their conviction that the bowling area at Folsom Lake Bowl is truly a family entertainment center, the Drehers in ’06 banned alcoholic beverages on the lanes from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. “A lot of people were disappointed when we first did it,” Dreher said. “But we felt it was an important decision for family entertainment.” Dreher said Folsom Lake Bowl is community oriented, citing $10,000 a year in charitable fundraisers and donations of more than $50,000 to local schools. The Drehers are also members of the Folsom Rotary Club and the Chamber of Commerce. On July 27, the Drehers will open the doors at Folsom Lake Bowl for a full day of free bowling to anybody who lives or works in Folsom. “We know a lot of people in town haven’t walked in our doors in a couple of years,” Dreher said. “We want them to see what we’ve done to the place and what we’re planning to do in the near future.”