FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Kam Bowl, as the bowling alley across from the Kamehameha Shopping Center in Kalihi is known, will close next week after nearly 50 years, leaving four public alleys on Oahu. CLICK FOR LARGE
Kam Bowl closure brings loss of lifestyle
Bowling alley and restaurant regulars find themselves with few alternatives left
After nearly 50 years in business, Kam Bowl, the popular lanes near the Kamehameha Shopping Center in Kalihi, will close next week because it has lost its lease.
That puts its regulars in a bit of a bind. The closure will leave only four public alleys left on Oahu, and one of them, Waialae Bowl in Kahala, will close in February, its owner says.
Meanwhile, the Kapiolani Coffee Shop, which is in the bowling alley on School Street, will close June 28, but reopen a little more than a mile away at City Square on Dillingham Boulevard to serve up its popular oxtail soup.
The rumble of bowling balls and the crash of falling pins will be silenced June 15 after almost 50 years at the so-called Kam Bowl next to Kamehameha Shopping Center in Kalihi.
And the Kapiolani Coffee Shop, located in the bowling alley, known for its oxtail soup, will close June 28 and reopen in City Square in Kalihi about the Fourth of July.
The leases for the bowling alley -- its official name is MAK Bowl -- and restaurant with Kamehameha Schools expire at the end of the month. That means many regulars, most of them seniors, will have to travel to other bowling alleys and hoof it more than a mile for the restaurant specials.
Jason Mijo -- whose father, Gary, opened the coffee shop in 1986 -- said the two operations have enjoyed the "unique relationship" of sharing customers who want to get a bite to eat when they go bowling.
"It's a very fortunate association. A lot of clients who come to bowl also come to eat," and some people who no longer even bowl come just to eat, "hang out, see everybody -- it's a place to talk story," said Mijo.
"We have a bunch who come back day and night," he said.
About 30 people are such regulars that his waitresses let them in before the restaurant opens at 7 a.m. and put their orders in automatically, Mijo added. They wait for the bowling alley to open at 8 a.m., so "We're very, very much a part of their life," he added.
FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Peter Pang takes a swing at Kam Bowl across from the Kamehameha Shopping Center in Kalihi. The half-century-old bowling alley is closing, while the Kapiolani Coffee Shop inside is moving elsewhere. CLICK FOR LARGE
Management/owners of Kam Bowl could not be reached for comment.
Morris Mangalao, who lives five minutes away in Kalihi, said his bowling league will move to the Leeward Bowl, which will be one of four public alleys left on Oahu after Kam Bowl closes. Other bowlers probably will go to the Leeward Bowl in Pearl City, but "I heard about 30 people (in his league) don't want to go (there) because it's too far," he said.
Coy Doroha of Pearl City, who has been coming for 10 years to Kam Bowl five days a week, said he will be switching to Aiea Bowl.
"It's sad that there will be nowhere for senior citizens to bowl," Doroha said. "And what are the kids going to do after school and for physical education?"
Mijo said the elderly customers who don't want to go to another bowling alley or a place just to hang out because they can't get transportation will have "no place to go."
"We're going to really miss these customers who can't come back," including many regular visitors from Japan, he said.
Frank Yamamoto, who opened the Waialae Bowl next to Kahala Mall in 1958, said he will be closing his operation next February due to rising lease and operating expenses.
In the 1960s, when he was president of the Bowling Proprietors Association, there were 28 bowling alleys on Oahu. When his business closes, only the Aiea, Leeward and Kailua (Pali Lanes) bowling alleys will remain, he said.
"When one house closes, it doesn't increase business for the others. Customers or league members just quit bowling," Yamamoto said.