Sierra Lanes to be converted to Grocery Outlet

Plans being made for new bowling alley

Brian WilkinsonApril 24, 2013 

Sierra Lanes, the bowling alley that has served the Mountain Area for the past 27 years, will be converted to a Grocery Outlet scheduled to open in mid-October and plans are underway to build a new bowling alley near the existing building.

Grocery Outlet recently took over the lease on the 18,000 square foot building from Sierra Lanes, Inc.

According to Steve Kuljis, president of Sierra Lanes, Inc., current plans are to close the bowling alley immediately after Yosemite High School's June 7 Sober Grad party. Renovation will begin soon after the closing and Kuljis plans to have the new bowling alley open by the fall of 2014. The opening will be dependent on current negotiations for the site and finding an operator for the bowling alley.

"The operator needs to be experienced in both the bowling industry and restaurant business," Kuljis said. "Having an operator from the community will provide a great service to the Mountain Area."

Kuljis said he is disappointed about the gap in time between the closing of the current business and the opening of the new alley, but feels the community will be excited about the new bowling facility with a restaurant and bar.

The original bowling alley was built in the late 50s on Highway 41 north of Oakhurst in what is now the Golden Chain Theatre. A group of Oakhurst residents who wanted to start a melodrama theater, pooled their money and bought the building in 1967.

The bowling alley at its current location on Junction Drive, was built in 1986 by Buddy Muller and John Waterman. Muller said the bowling alley was built for youngsters of the community to have a safe place to go and for the seniors for much needed exercise and fellowship.

Oakhurst businessman George Sitts purchased the business in 1989 and sold it to Sierra Lanes, Inc. in 2006.

Muller, who at 78, bowls three days a week while wearing his "300 Game" ring and carries a 187 average, said he looks forward to the new facility.

"We are hopeful the new plans come to fruition," Muller said.

"This is a win-win for the community," Kuljis said. "Oakhurst is getting a great grocery store that will provide much-needed jobs and a new bowling alley. Grocery Outlets are big contributors to the communities they are in."

Kuljis said Grocery Outlet has been looking at Oakhurst for 10 years.

"This move will enable us to relocate the bowling alley and bring it up to the standards our bowlers deserve," Kuljis said. "The bowling alley is the heartbeat of the community and the community deserves a better facility with better scoring equipment and a nice restaurant."

Currently, nearly 500 adults and youth play in about 12 leagues at Sierra Lanes.

Grocery Outlet was established in 1946 when the late Jim Read began purchasing military surplus back in the 1940s and sold it at huge discounts. Today, Grocery Outlet is a third-generation family run business with 185 independently operated stores in California, Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and Pennsylvania. Read passed away in 1982 and his sons, Peter and Steven assumed management control of the company.

The companies website states the premise is simple: Offering brand name products for up to 50% off conventional retail prices. The stores offer a wide range of products including produce, fresh meats, dairy, deli, frozen product, seasonal products, housewares, toys, gifts, health and beauty products and a large inventory of beer and wine.

Grocery Outlet's are independently owned. There are two Grocery Outlet stores in Fresno and one in Clovis. The Fresno stores are located at 1825 East Ashland and 3566 West Shaw.

The Grocery Outlet manager has not been named at this time.

This is not the first bowling alley Grocery Outlet has converted to a grocery store. About two years ago, a similar conversion was made in Renton, Wash., about 15 miles out of Seattle.

"They did a great job remodeling our store and the community has been very receptive to us," said Jeff McNeil, manager of the store.

Oakhurst developer John Reed provided consulting services for the transaction.

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