NEW YORK - The owners of the popular “The Gutter” bowling alleys and bars in Williamsburg and Long Island City were ready to roll out their newest location in March on the Lower East Side. Before the first strike or spare or gutter ball could be thrown, though, the coronavirus pandemic came to town, and changed everything.
More than six months later, The Gutter Lower East Side is finally opening its doors on Wednesday.
"We never actually got open, but we've been putting all the finishing touches on it while we've waited,” said Todd Powers, owner of The Gutter.
The 12-lane establishment on Essex Street near Delancey Street is part of the Essex Crossing retail, office and residential development. Powers said it's been rough not being able to open, but they did receive support from their landlord along the way.
"We have tremendous faith in the product and the location, so we knew that if we were patient and they were patient that this was ultimately going to be a tremendous success,” said Isaac Henderson, director of Essex Crossing for developers Delancey Street Associates.
Governor Cuomo permitted bowling alleys to reopen back in late August at 50 percent capacity, so long as face coverings were worn and social distancing protocols were followed.
Bowlers must use every other lane to stay distant, and The Gutter has a full procedure in place to put bowler's minds at ease: everything from finding a ball with a glove, getting it sanitized, and sanitizing of those stylish bowling shoes, too. It's certainly a little different than the pre-pandemic Bowling excursion.
"Honestly, I think that the guests prefer that, when the pace is a little bit slower they see that you are doing the things they need to do, and they respect that,” said Drew DeWitt, Operations Manager for The Gutter.
The Gutter LES has been in the works for two-and-a half years. So the owners are certainly glad to welcome folks to these lanes to do some bowling.
The concept is similar to the Brooklyn and Queens locations. It resembles an old school bowling alley, not too flashy, plenty of vintage beer signs around the bar and bowling areas, and with a Lower East Side feel to it.
"It's really exciting to finally get it going, see people in here, see people enjoy it,” said Powers.