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Theresa Stays at Western Lanes

A few days ago, I learned of changes in the works for one of my favorite hangout spots, Western Lanes. The News & Observer reported that the bowling alley with the long-unchanged décor recently came into the hands of new owners.


Trying to catch a Miller Lite while holding a camera isn’t as easy as it looks.

I was relieved to learn that the new owners would be keeping most of the interior elements that make this place special, but was concerned after reading this one bit of speculation from the article:

the mainstays — [Theresa] Fenner and Cathy Richards, who has waited tables for more than 40 years, even when the restaurant was segregated and she was barred from eating there — can stay when the place reopens. But whether they will is uncertain.The only certainty is the counter’s fate: Fenner will be taking it home once it is extracted.

If you’ve ever ordered a beer or had lunch here, you know the great service that the place provides. Luckily for patrons of Western Lanes, Theresa confirmed that they will remain on as a part of the staff once the restaurant reopens after rennovations. Whether or not her trademark sliding beer delivery will continue remains uncertain.

Beyond the staff, part of the appeal of this hidden treasure on Hillsborough Street is the fact that it is a living and breathing time capsule. While some lament the fact it doesn’t have the modern convenience of electronic scoreboards, I see it as a benefit. Electronic scoreboards are frequently prone to inaccurate scores as well as delays, which can negatively affect the experience. It also disconnects you more from your score and the importance of a strike or spare. When you are adding numbers to an X or / in a frame, you are reminded how knocking down all the pins can increase your chances of winning.

I took a bowling as a physical education class at NCSU, and when mentioning this, the first thing that comes to everyone’s minds is: “Wow! What an easy class!” I then become the subject of their laughter when revealing I got a C. The thing is, it’s not an easy class. Your grade is determined by two factors: Your average score at the end of the year, and the rate of improvement you demonstrate throughout the semester. I’m terrible at sports and didn’t improve at a rate well enough to ensure a good grade. Regardless of my subpar performance in the class, I had a great time and learned a lot. Unfortunately, it still hasn’t helped my score much. I’m pretty happy if I can break 100.

The asset of any business is the staff they employ, and bowling here would not have been the same without the restaurant staff that has served patrons for decades. While I’m glad most of the décor will remain intact, I’m even happier the staff that have been here for so long will continue to serve my food, sling my beers, and provide me with temporary use of the most stylish shoes on the planet.

What are some of your memories or experiences with Western Lanes?


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