By Brett Milam
Three generations of Bedinghaus’ are keeping bowling alive in Batavia, taking over the Suburban Bowl location, rechristening it Batavia Bowl.
Brothers Dan and Jerry, along with their nephew, Andrew Bedinghaus, look to make Batavia Bowl a more Clermont-focused. The family has other bowling operations in Eastgate, Norwood and elsewhere.
“This is not our first rodeo,” Andrew said.
There are five other active siblings and many nieces and nephews coming in the next generation, all working at those locations.
“We are a family business,” Jerry said.
Dan added, “A business has to make a profit, but it doesn’t have to define you.”
And it’s not just family in the traditional sense; Manager Shirley Reynolds has been in the bowling business for more than two decades and with the Bedinghaus’ for nearly half that. Mechanic Stan Herald has been a bowling mechanic since he was 15, nearly 42 years ago.
Dan and Jerry have been at it since 1974, when bowling alleys were more adult-oriented affairs, smoke-filled, with pencil-kept scores and didn’t have nearly the amenities seen in a modern bowling alley, like Batavia Bowl.
Batavia Bowl is more than just its 16 lanes: It also has a Kitchen section, where the Bedinghaus’ want a “large emphasis” on food that they said wasn’t here before, a bar with craft beers and a plethora of high-definition projector screens, arcade games and even an outdoor patio.
Another change since the early 1970s is the switch in league-focus. It used to be, Dan said, that business was driven by 80 percent leagues, 20 percent open play, which would translate to 2,000-3,000 customers in a league every Friday night 30 times a year.
Nowadays, it’s 60 percent open play and 40 percent league, with a customer base of 25,000, Dan said.
“We’re really excited to be here,” he said. “We’ll have seniors and some leagues, but we’re not league-focused. Bowling is more popular than ever.”
Often customers are coming because of a birthday or a corporate event, like a team-building exercise or as a church group and also for fundraisers.
The third-generation family business plans to offer plenty of ways for bowlers to play, whether its through cosmic, glow playing, bumper lanes for kids, Pizza and Pins, pairing bowling with tickets to the Bengals game or the traditional leagues, like a flash league that lasts only 10 weeks.
“That’s the great thing about bowling, you can do it when you’re eight or 80,” Dan said.
Batavia Bowl will also host homes games for Batavia and Williamsburg’s bowling teams.
As for who is the best bowler in the family, that seems like it’s still up for debate.
“We’re pretty good, but we’ve never had a 300 in the family,” Andrew said.
Even so, one thing seems certain: The Bedinghaus family has survived this long in a changing bowling business landscape over the last almost-half century.
“We have been able to survive as a family and adapt,” Dan said. “And that is rare.”
Dan said this isn’t new to them, but the area is and it’s exciting.
“Our new name, Batavia Bowl, reflects the community,” he said.
The grand opening for Batavia Bowl, located at 1991 James E. Sauls Sr. Drive is Saturday, August 19th, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Customers can enjoy one free game of bowling with rental shoes, along with $1 pizza, soft drinks and hot dogs.
For more information, go to www.bataviabowl.com or call 513-724-3232.