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Set 'em up, knock 'em down

Folsom Lake Bowl owners celebrate third decade
By: Cole Mayer, The Telegraph
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In 1979, Wally and Sue Dreher bought what would become the Folsom Lake Bowl, Sports Bar, and Casino. Thousands of pins later, the family is celebrating three decades of ownership. “It was the end of the road, the second-to-last building,” Wally, 70, said. “We had a large, large kitchen, a dining room instead of a casino … There used to only be six restaurants (around). Now there’s at least 40.” While the Dreher family has owned the business for 30 years, the business will turn 50 next year. Over time, the entertainment center has been remodeled three times and the reins handed over to a second generation of the Dreher family. Dan, 30, runs the sports bar, hiring and advertisement, while Monica, 29, runs the casino and Jeremy, 37, acts as the general manager. Carol Barboza, 79, has been bowling at the alley for 35 years, and remembers when the second generation was young, especially Dan. “Danny was a baby when I was there. A little boy,” she said. “Jeremy was older, but I treated Dan like a son.” The second generation was born into the bowling business. “We grew up hanging out at the alley, in leagues,” said Monica. Since buying the property in 1979, the Drehers converted the dining room into a licensed casino in 1983, the bar relocated and remodeled, the large “bowling” sign outside downsized due to city ordinances, and watched sport of bowling itself changed. Barboza remembers when there was “a mini restaurant, part of the bar. We had banquets at the end of the league. It was a raging business.” “In ‘79, bowling was heavy on league play. We would open at 6 or 9 p.m., just for the leagues. Now we open at 10 a.m.,” Wally said. “Now, it’s more fun, open bowling. Fifty to 60 percent of play is league, it used to be 85 percent.” Today, the alley has more customers, from single players to corporate and birthday parties. The change does not discourage Barboza, the secretary of a senior league, however. “I’ll bowl as long as I can,” she said. “Bowling doesn’t really change, it goes on and on … It’s is a wonderful sport.” Folsom Lake Bowl, which has placed within the top five Best Sacramento Area Bowling Alleys three years in a row, winning third place in 2009, has gone through renovations within the past few years. Extra lanes have been installed, televisions replaced with flat plasma screens, the lanes upgraded and the sports bar remodeled with new booths. Upcoming improvements include upgrading the scoring machines to more modern technology, Dan said. This itself is an improvement over the old method of scoring. “We used to have to take scores by hand,” Barboza recalled. “Now it’s automated.” The most recent changes of the entertainment center began last year, and have a projected completion date of 2010. The renovations have laid down new lanes inside, and changed the parking lot, paint job, lighting and landscaping outside. “It’s a work in progress,” Dan said of the alley. “Keep up, or get behind the times.”