Thunderbird Lanes Set to Close after Half-Century in Willow Grove

Thunderbird Lanes will be closing after 50 years in Willow Grove.

Thunderbird Lanes will close its Willow Grove bowling complex that features 36 alleys, a snack bar, and arcade games after May 1, according to a report in The Philadelphia Business Journal by John George.

John Kennedy Dealerships, which operates eight automobile dealers in the Philadelphia region, has a tentative agreement of sale to buy the bowling alley site at 1130 York Road in Upper Moreland Township, which originally opened in the early 1960s as Silver Lake Lanes.

Michael Kennedy, an owner of the Kennedy Dealerships, said the deal to purchase the property has not yet closed. “We hope that will happen in a month or so,” he told the PBJ. The company’s plan is to build a “state-of-the-art” collision repair center at the site, which will consolidate two smaller body shops it operates in the area. The plan will require township zoning approval.

Thunderbird Lanes will continue to operate its other facility, a 32-lane bowling alley in Warminster. The company at one time operated four bowling alleys in the region, but it sold its two Philadelphia facilities over the past eight years.

Elaine Brumberg, a minority owner of the bowling alley, said she didn’t want to sell the facility, but the majority owners of the multiple-family-owned business favored the sale.

She said the owners were not in a position to invest the large sums of money needed to keep the venue competitive.

“The bowling industry has changed,” Brumberg said. “It’s now about being a FEC – a family entertainment center. You have to be prepared to put in a million dollars for laser tag and [prize] redemption centers and a big bar and restaurant or you are not going to survive in this industry.”

Click here to read more coverage in the Philadelphia Business Journal.

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