Whether casual or competitive, bowling is a sport enjoyed by millions of Americans every year. Its history dates back as far as the Middle Ages, but it was during the late 50s the sport’s popularity really began to surge. In 1955, the amount of bowling centers operating in the U.S. was 6,600, according to The Atlantic. By 1963, that number had almost doubled to 11,000, thanks to the invention of the automatic pinsetter. Sunset Lanes bowling center first opened its doors in Beaverton, Oregon during that boom in 1963. Proprietors Tom Burke and Jon Tang began working at Sunset Lanes when they were just 16-years-old when the facility was owned by Brunswick. They paid their dues like most would in their first job experience, working in guest services cleaning tables, floors, and restrooms. Little did they know that their first job would ignite their passion for providing family entertainment and customer service for their community.
Over the next 25 years, Burke and Tang continued to work for Brunswick, opening new facilities in California and Utah. In 1998, the two discovered an exciting opportunity back in Beaverton: a lease for Sunset Lanes was available. They jumped at the chance to return to their roots and acquired the bowling center to make it their own. Over the next 19 years, they owned and operated Sunset Lanes, a neighborhood entertainment center where families and friends could bowl together, eat delicious food, and play video games to their heart’s content.
Being in this business for many years, the owners of Sunset Lanes have noticed plenty of changes to the ways in which people enjoy the sport, though one thing has always been constant: “Bowling has always been popular,” said Burke. “It’s the number one sport in the country.” What has changed are the most common ways people enjoy bowling. Back in the day, the lanes were flooded with traditional league bowlers taking on their opponents over the course of an intensive 35 week schedule. While traditional league play is still popular, many of today’s guests are more casual and less frequent. Modern-day lanes are often occupied by company events, birthday parties, groups of friends enjoying a casual game, or couples wanting to switch up their date night routine with some cosmic bowling. No matter who the clientele is, the owners love being a part of this industry because it allows them the opportunity to have a special relationship with all of their guests, whether they come in twice a week or twice a year.