New entertainment center opens in Lents

Take a look inside the all-new ‘KingPins’ – an outer East Portland amusement establishment that offers a lot more than bowling …

The old bowling alley on SE 92nd Avenue in the Lents neighborhood is again all new, thanks to the private owners who took over the operation.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

One after another, traditional bowling alleys east of the Willamette River have been “closing for renovation” – and never reopening.

Because of this, many people driving past the landmark Bowlmor AMF Lanes at 3550 SE 92nd Avenue, which closed last year, probably thought when the fencing went up around it that this long-established family fun center would be replaced by a warehouse.

But not so! In late June, KingPins held a “soft opening”, followed by a grand opening on July 9.

KingPins General Manager Aaron Whitford, and co-owner John Tang, invite folks to come in and check out the new entertainment center.

“For many years, the Bowlmor AMF was corporate-owned,” remarked KingPins General Manager Aaron Whitford.

“Last year, John Tang and Tom Burke, who also own Sunset Lanes in Beaverton, purchased the building,” Whitford told East Portland News.

It was closed for about nine months for the transition; during that time it went through a complete remodel from top to bottom. “When we first took it over, it was just a shell of a building with walls, floor, and a roof; the previous owners had removed everything,” Whitford said.

From top to bottom, KingPins has been totally renovated.

“So, what you see here is far more than a new coat of paint on the walls and varnish on the alleys,” Whitford grinned. “It’s Portland’s newest and most modern bowling, arcade, food, and event destination, with 40 lanes – equipped with modern flat screen displays, automatic scoring, and HD televisions.”

Traditional bowling centers – the former one featured 50 bowling lanes – had little else to offer, Whitford pointed out.

Chef Pete Fiume takes a pizza from the oven in the remodeled kitchen.

“Now, consumers expect more nowadays; they want an ‘entertainment experience’, which means an upgraded bowling facility, good food, and a really good game room,” Whitford said.

The new owners decided to offer 32 lanes in a more traditional setting for club and league play. “Bowling leagues are still a very big part of what we do here. But we also know that we have to appeal to a larger audience,” explained Whitford.

This new game room features the latest games of skill and chance.

In place of ten of the previous lanes, KingPins installed a 4,000 square foot game room, featuring some 50 of the latest video and redemption games, and a “Winner’s Court”, where guests redeem tickets for prizes.

Finally, on the south end of the building, there’s now a “TapHouse Bar & Grill”, offering a casual dining menu, craft beers, wine, and spirits, served to eight TapHouse lanes.

“With tables and couch seating in a lounge style environment for up to about 80 people, it makes this area a good place for company team-building events, group gatherings, and casual bowling,” Whitford said.

When co-owner John Tang joined the conversation, he told why the pair chose to invest here in outer East Portland.

“We have a great business in Beaverton,” Tang said. “We knew the east side of Portland was an under-served area. When the opportunity became available for us, we thought this would be a great place to open a center.”

“Cosmic Bowling” anyone? These lanes are part of the “TapHouse Bar & Grill” inside KingPins.

Tang stressed that they operate family-oriented businesses, catering to customers “from 3 to 91 years old. The great thing about bowling is that anybody can do it.”

There’s still time for youngsters 15 and under to get in the KingPins “Kids Bowl Free” program, or to check out their family pass.

Go take a look; it’s a great way to keep kids occupied and physically active during the summer – without the risk of being injured on the streets while playing Pokémon GO.

For more information, see their official website: CLICK HERE.

© 2016 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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