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Tonawanda Bowling Center is a crafty take on nostalgia

Bowling alleys. The last bastion of antiquity. Pitchers of domestics poured into plastic cups as pins fall in cacophonous crashes. Relics of ages past mingle with the heavy scent of anti-fungal spray.

There are certain expectations stepping into a bowling center but those expectations are mercilessly dashed like a late frame 7-10 split at the Tonawanda Bowling Center.

Nestled deep into a full parking lot, the Tonawanda Bowling Center is not your grandparents’ set of lanes. It’s probably not your parent’s set of lanes, either.

Astride the taps of Bud Light and Labatt are 40 craft beer and cider lines. Local favorites like Dude, Incredible from Community Beer Works are poured next to national gems including Wagner Valley’s Drenched Wet Hop and new releases like Lagunitas’ Super Cluster.

Hanging out from left during league play are Cristy Egri, Claire Carmer, Emily Monte and Samantha Muscato.(Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

The variety shows the bar's commitment to providing an oasis for craft beer lovers with patron-friendly pricing. Pints run $5.50 - a reasonable price that is certainly among the lowest in the area for some very good beers.

There's also a great variety with a generous list of IPAs along with well-crafted stouts, Belgians and sours, nut browns, fruited wheats, and even cider. Nearly every other tap comes from a brewery in Buffalo or Rochester, with another handful from just a little farther upstate.

Though the bar exists in the same building as the lanes, it is a distinct entity. The space has its own entrance and a wall of windows separates the two.

On a Friday night, Tonawanda Bowling Center has a nostalgic party atmosphere. The soundtrack is that of a late '90s middle-school dance, in the best way possible. Servers pace back and forth, weaving through pool tables and bar patrons to sling drinks to league bowlers. The bar is packed with the pickiest beer lovers while rows of televisions broadcast sporting events.

Doug Mellott bowls a frame during league bowling at Tonawanda Bowling Center. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

Along with your favorite independent brewers, Tonawanda Bowling Center runs an unusually diverse menu. Sure, you can get a pizza, or some fingers, or some fries ... but why would you? The kitchen stirs up some fantastic barbecue, and again the price is perfection. A set of three sliders and house chips run less than $9.

Pulled chicken, pork and brisket sandwiches line a plate begging for homemade sauce. Plus ribs, burgers, baked salmon. Fine fare with great beer and "Rhythm is a Dancer" thumping in your ear.

Whether you are out for drinks with friends, dinner with the family, a different spin for a date, or just a walk down memory lane with a good craft beer, Tonawanda Bowling Center’s features fun for everyone. Even your parents...or your grandparents.

Tonawanda Bowling Center

574 Young St., Tonawanda

Hours: 9 a.m. to 3 a.m. Monday, Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 9 a.m. to midnight Sunday.

Parking: Tight on league nights (weekends).

Atmosphere: Vintage activities meet modern amenities. Nostalgia for generations young and old.

Pub Crowl: For $12.50, you can take a crowler of your favorite selection home.

Hangry Hour: From 4 to 6 p.m. daily, TBC offers a special dinner menu for $9.95. Price includes baked salmon, ½ rack of ribs, a smoked burger or ½ smoked chicken with a dinner roll, chef’s salad and a side of macaroni and cheese, curly fries or steamed vegetables.

Bubble hockey at bars has been hot the last few years. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

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