STURGIS | The Sturgis bowling alley, on the verge of extinction less than six months ago, is getting a new life.
Fred Mueller and Bernice Mueller, longtime owners of the feed mill at Martin, along with their sons, Mike and Frank, have purchased the building. The Mueller’s daughter, Barb and her husband, Stewart Hagman, will manage the facility to be known as Sturgis Strikers.
Frank Mueller has operated the Sportsman’s Lanes in Martin for 13 years. Stewart Hagman is a longtime bowler who currently bowls at Spearfish.
“I’m not as good as I used to be. I’ve slowed down a little after 30 years,” Stewart said.
Everyone in the family has some bowling prowess and look forward to reopening the business for the residents of Sturgis.
The bowling alley will have 12 lanes and be open initially from 11 a.m. to midnight. There will be fall leagues beginning Sept. 15 as well as cosmic bowling on the weekends, and opportunities for birthday bowling parties.
“We have invested a lot for a good community,” Frank Mueller said. “We take pride in bringing a product that provides enjoyment year round.”
The family say they also are proud to be one of few local owners of property in downtown Sturgis. Many of the downtown buildings have been sold to investors outside of Sturgis who only open their doors to the Sturgis motorcycle rally crowds a couple months a year.
Bringing the building back to life hasn’t been without its challenges.
Buffalo Bill's Bowling Alley closed in November of 2011. The building on First Street in downtown Sturgis had been steadily falling apart, bowlers said then. The ceiling has been leaking steadily more and more and ceiling tiles had been falling out.
The bowling alley was owned by Kenny Price, founder of Samson Exhause of Brea, Calif. Price bought the building in 2003 and had been running it since. Price said in 2011 the state of the building started to degrade, but so did the attendance, causing him to lose money.
Bowlers within leagues at the alley said the reason they stopped going to the alley was because the building was not being kept in good repair, making it difficult to bowl.
The first major project for the Muellers was to repair the roof. On a recent morning, the family showed a stack of 5-gallon plastic buckets that had hung from the rafters to catch rain water. Thankfully the lanes below the leaky roof were synthetic and not wood that could have been warped by the water.
“Let’s just say it was not a turn-key operation,” Stewart Hagman said.
Price purchased the building for $730,000 and had listed the property with Sturgis Real Estate for $580,000 in 2011. The Muellers said Price was considering tearing down the building and renting out the vacant lot during rally time each year.
“This community needed it back,” Barb Hagman said.
The family all agrees that Frank Mueller was the catalyst in purchasing and renovating the bowling alley.
“He brought it up at mom’s birthday and everyone just got more interested,” she said.
There also will be a bar and restaurant in the facility. The restaurant, to be called The Laughing Hyena. The patriarch of the family, Fred Mueller, has been on four African safaris and amassed a collection of 80 taxidermied animals, including a life-sized rhino, that will be included in the design.
Fred’s granddaughter, Ramy Boomer, will oversee the restaurant and bar.
“We will have pizza, burger, finger foods and wings,” she said.
The Muellers say they are excited to breathe new life in the bowling alley.
“This is not at all about the rally. We’re in this for the people of Sturgis,” Frank Mueller said.