Bowling alleys a dying breed in Torrance – Daily Breeze

Bowling alleys have become a dying breed in Torrance.

The city, which had three bowling alleys still in operation at the beginning of 2020, will be down to one by next year.

Longtime Gable House Bowl owner Mikey Cogan, son of one of its original proprietors, announced earlier this year that the popular bowling alley, which opened in 1960, would close in early 2023, with the land slated to be developed into a 218-unit luxury apartment complex.

Its demise follows that of the Palos Verdes Bowl on Crenshaw Boulevard in 2020. That bowling alley, which opened in 1958, has been demolished and replaced by a shopping center featuring an Aldi grocery store, a Chick-fil-A fast food restaurant and a Kinecta Federal Credit Union.

Once Gable House Bowl closes next year, the Bowlero — which opened as the Bowl-O-Drome in 1957 and is on Western Avenue — will be the last Torrance bowling alley standing.

The future of bowling in Torrance looked much rosier in November 1959, when a group of men announced an agreement to open the Gable House Bowling Center. They chose a site on the southwest corner of Hawthorne Boulevard and 226th Street.

The advent of modern automated pinsetting, combined with the need for cheap entertainment for postwar suburban families, led to the proliferation of more modern bowling centers during the 1950s.

The South Bay caught on to the trend quickly, first with the South Bay Bowling Center, in Redondo Beach, in 1956. The Palos Verdes Bowl and the Bowl-O-Drome quickly followed.

The principals behind the Gable House – Jack Cogan, Jack Howard and brothers Bob, Leonard and Jerry Homel – had experience in the field. The Homel brothers owned and operated the Jefferson Bowl in Culver City, and Howard co-managed the Palos Verdes Bowl. Cogan would later become manager of Gable House.

The location, 22501 S. Hawthorne Blvd., was ideal. It was near the southwest corner of Hawthorne and Sepulveda boulevards, and just below the city’s burgeoning retail corridor. The groundbreaking for the 40-lane center took place on July 28, 1959.

Its design split the 40 lanes into separate 20-lane wings. The building also includes a coffee shop, child care center, a cocktail lounge and a billiard room. Its restaurant, The Rik-Sha Room, was located on a mezzanine level above the alleys, along with a second cocktail lounge.

The Gable House had a soft opening during the spring of 1960. Its formal dedication ceremony took place over a three-day period from July 15 to 17, 1960.

The festivities featured giveaways (bowling balls, shoes, and, oddly, hams and turkeys, among other prizes), and demonstrations and lessons from area bowling pros. The three-day event drew “huge crowds,” according to the Torrance Press.

Gable House would continue to draw large crowds over the years, becoming a social center, as well as a sporting one.

Jerry Homel became the Gable House’s first manager and he tried some innovative touches during its early years. In 1961, for example, he hired professional instructors Jerry Goree and Richard Girod to offer dance lessons to the general public at the bowling alley.

That same year, he also announced the formation of an experimental pro bowling team league with team franchises in different cities, using other pro sports leagues as a model. His brother, Leonard, came up with the idea, going so far as to build a 1,150 seat arena next to Jefferson Bowl in Culver City.

The innovative experiment was short-lived, however; the Los Angeles Toros and the rest of the league folded in early 1962 after just a single season.

But professional bowling would become part of Gable House during the 1970s. The Professional Bowlers Association tour found a home at the Torrance lanes from 1977 to 1993. The Los Angeles Open PBA tour made an annual visit in all but one year through 1989, and the Gable House hosted the AC Delco tournament there from 1990 to 1993.

More recent events, though, have led to Gable House’s legacy winding down. Shortly before midnight on Jan. 4, 2019, as the center was about to begin its Rock-N-Glow bowling event, a melee broke out in front of the building. Shots rang out and, when it was over, three people had been killed and four injured.

In June, Reginald Wallace was convicted on three counts of first-degree murder, four counts of attempted murder and one count of a felon in possession of a firearm. (He was on parole at the time of the crime.)

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