Bowling Center development
Bowling alley construction was considered “an important facet” of property development in the western United States in the late 1950s and early 1960s, described by the Los Angeles Times as “small cities in themselves”, some of which cost tens of millions of dollars (in 1960s dollars). The Los Angeles Times described developer Louis Lesser as “the most active in this field” of bowling alley developments.
In 1960, Lesser developed a bowling alley in Indio, California, at a cost of $750,000 (5,445,364 when adjusted for inflation). In 1959, he built the $2 million (15,069,874 when adjusted for inflation) “Beach City” Santa Monica Civic Lanes in Santa Monica, California, also designed to house the Santa Monica Civic Club, and Samoa Lanes at 5th and Broadway in Santa Monica, both with 24 lanes “equipped with automated pinsetters, a billiard room, children’s playroom, coffee shop, and cocktail lounge”.
By 1962, Lesser had developed nine bowling alleys. The biggest was Parkway Lanes in El Cajon, California, developed at a cost of $1 million with 60 alleys. It featured five acres for parking. The facility had “varied entertainment rivaling the best in night clubs”, according to the Los Angeles Times, with headliners such as Louis Prima, Lili St. Cyr, Johnny Ray, Frankie Lane, and Roberta Linn who appeared at Parkway, developed by Lesser with Irvin Kahn and George Hirsch.
Lesser and Ted Bentley developed Legion Lanes into a 44-lane bowling alley from the Hollywood American Legion Stadium boxing arena, at El Centro and Hollywood Blvd., for $2 million ($14,520,971 when adjusted for inflation). The facility included a playroom for children, cocktail bar, billiard room, and snack bar. NBC provided its lot for temporary parking during construction, and Milt Enright became manager of the facility.