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Second Myrtle Beach-area bowling center undergoing major renovations

The second area bowling center in as many months has announced major renovations to its location, though the new owner of North Myrtle Beach Bowling Center says that’s just a “happy coincidence.”

Michael Siniscalchi and Charlotte Hughes are the new owners of the North Myrtle Beach Bowling Center, formerly owned by the Clarke family, which is currently closed for renovations with plans to reopen in April as 710 Myrtle Beach.

And Waccamaw Lanes, at 101 Gray Drive in Myrtle Beach off U.S. 501 across from Fantasy Harbour, is back in the hands of the Zavakos family, who announced plans in December to spend between $350,000 and $400,000 sprucing up the more than 30-year-old property with everything from new lanes to more outside lighting.

Renamed for the infamous 7-10 split – a term familiar to those who bowl that refers to two pins left standing – when the bowling center in North Myrtle Beach reopens as 710 Myrtle Beach, it will offer upscale comfort food, burgers, Bocce, beer and, of course, bowling.

Siniscalchi, 29, said the goal is to bring friends together for a fun time, to “be social,” and noted food and alcohol will be allowed at lane seating.

“Ironically, I’m terrible [at bowling],” he said. “But we love the game and its potential to bring people together.”

Adding a full-service bar is part of the new plans, with 12 to 16 taps that will feature domestic beers and craft beers.

“Oh yes,” Siniscalchi said, noting one of his favorite craft brews is Purple Haze. “We are definitely planning a good selection of craft beer.”

Jason Klocker, owner of Klocker’s Tavern in Myrtle Beach, viewed himself similarly to Siniscalchi.

“Well, I love to bowl but I wouldn’t consider myself a bowler,” Klocker said, then wanted to know if this weekend would be a good time to go. “My fiancee and I would love to [check it out], can we take a group with us?”

Klocker’s mind-set is exactly what Siniscalchi is hoping will resonate among all ages once 710 Myrtle Beach opens.

“In a world where e-commerce, social media and instant gratification dominate our daily lives, we’re excited to create a social environment where locals and visitors alike can unplug and enjoy great beer, original food and friendly competition year round,” said Siniscalchi and Hughes.

With a background in finance, Siniscalchi attended Lehigh Vally College in Pennsylvania, has worked in New York City and Chicago, and his new venture is a “hybrid of all the places we love,” Siniscalchi said, citing a few that include Brooklyn Bowl in New York, Fulton Alley in New Orleans, and Pinewood Social in Nashville, Tenn.

Hughes is a flight attendant and will be dividing time between the skies and 710 Myrtle Beach.

“[Charlotte] will be here more when we open,” Siniscalchi said. “For now, I have to have her at the airport some mornings by 5 a.m.”

Without the confines of a nine-to-five for Siniscalchi, he aims to have remodeling finished by April.

“We’re ahead of schedule right now,” he said as the sound of drills and power saws echoed through the almost gutted interior of the building.

Whereas Waccamaw Lanes plans to spend $350,000 to $400,000 and keep all 32 of its lanes, Siniscalchi said 710 Myrtle Beach will have fewer lanes, though his renovations will cost around $750,000.

“The first 14 [lanes] are staying,” he said. “The next 12 will be replaced by a game area and pool tables and the six remaining will be sectioned off for parties and private use.”

Siniscalchi noted the coin-operated machines will be replaced with higher quality ones and patrons will visit an area in the front manned by a hostess to pick up balls, shoes and accessories.

Although Siniscalchi said there is the possibility they will offer league bowling in the future – “maybe after the first year or so,” he said – 710 Myrtle Beach won’t accommodate bowling leagues just yet.

When the center closed on Dec. 7, it was mid-season for league bowling.

“The people who have been bowling here for 20 years understood their season was halted and decisions were based on a greater picture,” said Marijon Clarke, manager of the North Myrtle Beach Bowling Center.

“I think they had two leagues,” said Tony Todd, general manager at Little River Bowling Alley. “I got one [of the leagues] here but there were 14 teams of four and we only had room for 10.”

Options for league bowlers also include Frank Theaters Cinebowl & Grille at Inlet Square mall in Murrells Inlet, which was updated approximately three and a half years ago.

“My concern was for [the league bowlers] but also for my employees – some who had been there since we opened,” said Clarke.

Clarke was diligent in keeping her employees informed to enable planning ahead and eligibility for unemployment.

“I was worried about them,” she said. “The most difficult thing to say was ‘we’re closing.’”

From 1986 until 2014, the bowling center was part of attorney John Clarke’s family and provided Marijon Clarke with her first job at age 12.

“It’s been a wonderful experience,” said Clarke, who took over as manager in 2008. “Yes, [selling] was bittersweet but it was the right timing.”

Without the demands of running the business that was for sale “for about two years,” Clarke said she can now spend more time with her two young daughters and another business, Divine Dance Boutique, also located in North Myrtle Beach.

Clarke noted since Siniscalchi “isn’t from the area, he will bring a fresh perspective and new energy.”

In addition to new ceilings, flooring and seating, table service will be available in the settee area – the spots where bowlers sit to keep score and wait for their turn.

Michelle Barshinger along with husband Jarrod of Harrisburg, Pa., are vacation regulars to the Myrtle Beach area and avid bowlers but haven’t checked out any bowling centers, “even on rainy days,” said Michelle Barshinger. “I would definitely consider checking it out the next time we come!”

Siniscalchi said he hopes the new layout and atmosphere will encourage new faces to look less at cellphones and more at each other while they bowl and enjoy the amenities.

Siniscalchi isn’t worried about competition with Waccamaw Lanes being an issue even with the ongoing overhauls and updates for both bowling facilities.

“We drove there [to Waccamaw Bowling] not too long ago and it took us about an hour,” he said.

Ted Zavakos took over Waccamaw Bowling on Nov. 1, but his family’s ties to the bowling center date back even further. The family owned it in the 1990s, but sold it to Larry Nowak in the late 1990s. Nowak had been running it since; he sold the center back to the Zavakos family during the recession, but leased the property and continued running it until giving up the lease Nov. 1, Zavakos said.

“I’m very jazzed about the opportunities for the center. It’s given a lot of love over the years, and now it needs to be given some love back with these renovations,” said Zavakos, the current proprietor and general manager of Waccamaw Lanes, for a story in The Sun News in December.

Zavakos said his goal is to keep it a “classic bowling center” but with a more modern look, and have a “wholesome” environment where families feel comfortable.

He hopes to draw in a younger crowd with new light and sound systems and a digital Internet jukebox. New scorekeeping technology will also be added to the lanes.

Zavakos doesn’t have a strict timeline for all the renovations, but hopes to have everything completed for the 2015 fall league season.

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