Mammoth’s Rock ‘N Bowl is nearing completion and will be ready for an official opening on March 30, said project developer Dan O’Connell.
The bowling center, which boasts 12 lanes, a bar, patio, restaurant and deck, as well as three golf simulators and a pro shop for bowling and golf equipment, was conceived in 2008 when O’Connell and project partner Andrea O’Connell went to a birthday party at Pinz in North Hollywood. “I thought, ‘Mammoth needs one of these,” O’Connell recalled.
The O’Connells found a vacant lot between the Castoff and Southern California Edison on Chateau Rd. perfectly suited for the project, and broke ground in 2012.
“Mammoth needs change; positive, good change,” O’Connell said. With the Rock ‘N Bowl project he hopes to show “that you can do it differently, but still have [a project] integrate with the whole resort feel.”
Architect Bruce Woodward drew inspiration for the look of the bowling center from mining operations, integrating the aesthetic of steel plates, concrete pads, wood and sheet metal into the final design. The end result is an exterior of powder-coated sheet metal identical to that used at McCoy Station on Mammoth Mountain, and an interior at once modern and warm; muted and colorful.
“I think it came out pretty spectacularly,” said O’Connell.
Rock ‘N Bowl hosted a ‘soft’ opening on March 12 for the Fireman and Policeman’s Olympics, a five day racing and social event that brought about 150 people to the bowling center.
“We had a sense of elation for sure last night,” O’Connell said Thursday morning. “It’s really nice to see everything getting put to use after all of the conceptual work for four to five years.”
The party, which included children and spouses, spilled over into the many comfortable seating areas on the first floor of the bowling center. One of those areas adjacent to the bar will soon host foosball and ping pong tables, which can be relocated to create a dance floor and stage area. Another area will be used for darts.
O’Connell said he plans to roll the bowling center out in stages, starting with the downstairs. “Once we feel comfortable with that, we’ll open up the dining room,” he said. When the elevator is deemed ADA compliant, Rock ‘N Bowl will also open its upper level golf simulators.
The simulators weren’t part of the original plan, but were inspired by input from General Manager Ian Birrell. As it turns out, golf simulators are a growing trend in bowling alleys, O’Connell said.
The simulators’ state-of-the-art technology allows golfers to play with real clubs and balls, on courses projected onto 12 foot by nine foot screens. Options for play include famous courses like Pebble Beach, and are realistic down to the minutiae. “You hear birds tweeting and waves breaking,” O’Connell said.
Sierra Star will be leasing a space in Rock ‘N Bowl year-round, he added, offering winter lessons by Dave Schacht and his Sierra Star crew.
As for bowling amenities, O’Connell said he plans to offer package deals with a ball, bag and shoes. Balls can be ordered in house and custom-made.
Meanwhile the kitchen, overseen by Chef Frederic Pierrel, formerly of Tamarack’s Lakefront Restaurant, will offer eclectic cuisine at varied price points. O’Connell said patrons can stop in for a burger or pizza, or graduate up to the high end, with venison, chops, steak, and seafood options.
Stepping out onto the upper deck off the restaurant, or the lower deck behind the bar, patrons will have a stunning panoramic view from Laurel Mountain to Mammoth Mountain.
“This was just a tucked away little lot that no one ever built on,” O’Connell said. “There’s nothing like this, not even on the Mountain.”
The O’Connells see a long lifetime for the project, particularly given the growing popularity of upscale bowling centers in other resort towns. O’Connell noted Jupiter Bowl in Park City and Bol in Vail as examples of the trend.
In fact, Mammoth Mountain Ski Area CEO Rusty Gregory visited Vail and told O’Connell that Bol was booked for three straight nights. “He said, ‘I think this will be very popular,’” O’Connell said.