Montrose Bowl owner Bob Berger

Montrose Bowl owner Bob Berger at the bowling alley on Honolulu Ave. in Montrose on Wednesday, January 8, 2014. The bowling alley has been in the family for about 31 years. (Raul Roa / Glendale News-Press / January 9, 2014)

Tucked away on Honolulu Avenue, Montrose Bowl’s location is the definition of discreet. Despite the lack of flashing lights or colorful signs to announce its 77-year presence, the spot remains a favorite of locals and film companies.

With its blue-green and orange coloring, red vinyl seats, and an absence of electronic scoreboards, the bowling alley is awash in the 1950s.

A popular location shoot for many films, including “Teen Wolf” (1985), “Frankie and Johnny” (1991), and most recently Clint Eastwood’s “Jersey Boys” (2014), owner and manager Bob Berger says the 1998 movie “Pleasantville” provided the current decor. When it was redecorated for the film, Berger’s father, Robert, decided to keep the theme.

Since taking over the business in 2007, Berger has not altered the theme, aiming to maintain its time-period luster.

“It’s not updated,” he said. “We try to keep it this way, the 1950s style, and most people that come in love the place because it is kept that way.”

Berger, who previously ran a trucking operation, joined the family business when his father underwent quintuple bypass surgery.

“It’s my livelihood,” he said, noting it took a few years to make the transition. “I have to be attached to it.”

Although his wife Helga, who helps run operations, had her hesitations in the beginning, she grew to appreciate the bowling alley.

“It’s a good business,” she said. “It provides for the family, we can take our vacations when we want to. It’s just a lot of hard work.”

When the Berger family purchased the business in 1981, public bowling was the norm. That changed, however, when private parties and events began to bring in more revenue.

If no parties are scheduled, the alley will be open for public bowling. Berger, however, says he doesn’t advertise this, as the hours are not consistent.

The alley does an average of 10 to 12 events a week, said Berger, down from 18 to 20 prior to 2007. He attributes the decline to the affects of the Great Recession.

In addition to being a popular film location, Montrose Bowl is also a favorite for wedding rehearsals, baby showers, birthday and company parties, including the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, The Walt Disney Company, Nestlé, and the Glendale Adventist Hospital.

Susi Leyva, an office manager for Sales Baron, an eBay consignment store, said her company has been hosting Christmas parties at Montrose Bowl for the past four years, enjoying its “mellow” and “homey” atmosphere. She says the ’50s style and lack of technological distractions makes it more comfortable for bowlers.

“It just keeps you concentrated on the bowling,” she said. “They have a really good selection in the juke box as well.”

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Agnessa Kasumyan is a freelance writer.


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