When the Lakewood Theater in Dallas closed in 2015, the neighborhood mourned the loss like it was an old friend. Opened in 1938, the art deco building has screened movies and hosted live acts, from bands to burlesque. It's even recognized as an official city of Dallas landmark.
This summer, the iconic space will become a bowling alley.
Bowlski's comes from Craig Spivey and his wife, Jennifer. The Spiveys are Lakewood residents and bowling veterans, having opened Bowlounge in the Design District and a Bowlski's location near Aspen, Colo.
The theater-to-bowling alley transition has resulted in an extensive makeover, but the new tenants were careful to keep much of what makes the old building so beloved. That includes preserving the murals in front, which feature vintage depictions of characters like Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Zorro. The stairway's handrails are staying put, the bathrooms sport their original tile, and the grand piano-shaped mirrored ceiling in the lobby isn't going anywhere.
"We want to retain all the history in here," Craig says. "It would be a shame to cover all this up."
When the doors open, the first thing patrons will see is an art deco-designed candy shop, which doubles as the counter for check-in and shoe rental. On the right is a restaurant and bar with beer, wings, sliders (called "slideskis") and "rollskis" — like pizza rolls, but filled with all kinds of ingredients.
The theater seats are gone, replaced by a 10-lane bowling alley, with wood, pinsetters and ball returns salvaged from an old bowling alley in Mineola, 85 miles east of Dallas.
The stage behind those lanes — one that has hosted famous folks like Cyndi Lauper, Gavin DeGraw, and Chelsea Handler — has gotten a revamp, and Craig says it might be used for occasional live acts and karaoke, with a big projection screen available to show movies and music videos. There's even a disco ball being installed up high that once belonged to late Pantera guitarist Darrell "Dimebag" Abbott.
"We had to keep the stage," Jennifer says. "It seems everyone in Dallas has seen a show on that stage. My dad's band used to play here."
The mezzanine is a lounge with couches and pool tables. Up another flight of stairs, Bowlski's has private gaming suites, which feature golf simulators and can be rented for parties. One more level up is the old projector room, which is fashioned into a small VIP lounge with high-end liquors and Champagne.
There's a lot to do here, even if you don't know a strike from a split.
"The more we dug around, the more cool stuff we found in here and the more ideas we got," Craig says. "This place just keeps on giving."
Bowlski's, formerly the Lakewood Theater, is at 1825 Abrams Road, Dallas.