After 71 years, beloved Albany Bowl closes doors for good

A well-known and beloved East Bay establishment, Albany Bowl, is closing its doors for good.

Albany Bowl closes permanently, as owner says he can't pay the bills and stay in business.

The bowling alley on San Pablo Ave. has been closed since March due to the pandemic. But there was word this week that the owner has decided to shutter for good, saying the bowling alley cannot afford to pay its bills and remain in business.  

Albany Bowl had been closed since March due to the pandemic, but the owner now says it will close for good.

For 71 years, Albany Bowl has hosted countless events, calling itself a "great choice for family entertainment." The bowling center also offered billiard tables and a wide array of arcade games. It hosted bowling leagues, inviting players of all ages and levels. And it prided itself for being an active member of the community with a welcoming staff of more than 40 "happy, great employees." 

Albany Bowl closes permanently, as owner says he can't pay the bills and stay in business.

The bowling center had long been a go-to for gatherings and celebrations, hosting more than 800 birthday parties a year. It was also a popular spot for college students from the nearby UC Berkeley campus.


The bowling alley joins a growing list of businesses that have been casualties of the pandemic. On social media, many acknowledged that and noted that this one hit especially hard. The news of the permanent closure prompted messages of gratitude and a walk down memory lane from heartbroken community members. 

Albany Bowl closes permanently, as owner says he can't pay the bills and stay in business.

On Albany Bowl’s Facebook page, Wendy King wrote, "Thank you for the many years !!! You guys will truly be missed. We have many family memories at this location. Very sad to see you guys close down..."

On Instagram, writer Susan Ito expressed sadness over the news and shared the memories evoked by the bowling alley. Ito wrote, "This was my mother’s home away from home for over 17 years, ever since she moved to California. She found community in the #nisei bowling league were the average age was 88. She bowled until she was 95. She loved the fries at the lunch counter. What a loss. It was also A favorite of our whole family."

Another Instagram user, @dizzy1lov3, reached back to his childhood memories, as he shared his feelings of loss. "As the year comes to an end, unfortunately so does a huge part of me... Albany Bowl has been a part of my life since I was a toddler. I spent countless hours here by myself, with friends, family, etc. I've made so many friendships with the amazing people that kept the place running, and bowling became my outlet for anything that was bothering me. I feel like I lost a family member, and I'm absolutely devastated." 

He closed his post with the hashtag #EndOfAnEra. 

And from its neighbor down the street, the historic Ivy Room bar and music venue that no doubt shared many of the same late night patrons over the years, these words: "Absolutely heartbreaking to hear about the permanent closure of Albany Bowl. You’ll be deeply missed by our community."