This examiner.com story originally ran Dec. 19, 2011. It is being updated with a postscript.
Michael Dultz of Winnetka knows what it's like to bowl at odd hours at Canoga Park Bowl. And he knows that a pleasant surprise could be in store at those hours.
One such time came when Dultz visited the bowling alley at 2 a.m. “Eddie Murphy came in with four, five security guys and he bowled with one of them,” Dultz said. “We were one lane away and one time he saw us, and having seen us before [at the lanes], told us we should bowl with them.”
The venerable 53-year-old Canoga Park Bowl is one of the oldest alleys in Southern California and has had its share of bowling celebrities. It is open 24 hours, seven days a week, and the wee hours provide a golden opportunity for stars in an array of fields to slip into the lanes.
Gene Gregoldt, the owner of the establishment, said Murphy visited the alley so often that he gave him his own parking card. “We would put him on one side of the house and the others would continue to bowl just so they could watch him,” Gregoldt said.
Gregoldt cited other celebrities such as boxer Evander Holyfield, singer Whitney Houston and former Los Angeles Clippers basketball player Corey Maggette as others who have bowled early in the morning at the lanes. “And Will Smith brings his family down here” said Gregoldt, “and he comes day time.”
Canoga Park Bowl actually has plenty of things going for it other than its 24/7 hours and the chance to view a celebrity. For instance, the lanes offer special deals, such as 50-cent nights on Tuesdays.
Additionally, Gregoldt mentioned that “we're the only bowling center in the United States that has a symphony orchestra playing on Wednesday night.” Further, the lanes offer karaoke and jukebox nights.
“The fact is we’ve been here so long that we consider ourselves the best,” Gregoldt said. “It's my pride and joy. Once you're hired here, no one quits.”
Gregoldt said that his is the “biggest center in the Valley,” which includes a Best Western Hotel.
“At one time back in the mid-’90s when bowling was really hot,” Gregoldt added, “we had the highest lineage – the most number of bowling balls thrown – west of the Mississippi.”
This past weekend, Dultz showed up at Canoga Park Bowl during a quiet Saturday afternoon. But he knows the merits of bowling very early morning at the alley.
“It's a good time to go,” Dultz added. “You can hang out with friends and it's a good time if you don't like crowds. It's also cheaper to bowl and you can make noise.”
And alongside some celebrities as well!
Postscript: Under new ownership, Canoga Park Bowl no longer is open 24 hours a day. Late last year, the bowling center changed its hours. It is now open 9 a.m. to 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday and open 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. on the other days.
Last year Mike Willis, the bowling center’s longtime manager, explained that the “new owners [of the facility] thought business was not that good [in the wee hours].” He added that the new hours also made for a safer situation for patrons.