The 300 Club

Interior of the 300 Club
Photograph by Barbara Wilson

Bowling: the intergenerational pastime that fills the void created by an unexpected rainy day. Whether you’re stringing strikes like they’re in season or packing gutters like an overgrown oak, it doesn’t matter; The 300 Club of Green Lake has gone the extra mile to ensure everyone has a good time.

To appeal to a variety of residents and visitors, Erika Lopez, owner, and Orly Rivera, manager, didn’t just do bowling. When they renovated for the new venue, they brought in a huge arcade, private party rooms, updated the sports bar, and made room for a from-scratch kitchen. “We wanted everyone to feel welcome in here,” says Erika.

But, I mean, come on…everyone? As anyone with toddlers knows, the bowling alley can be a risk. They get bored. They can’t finish a 10-frame game. Guess you’re going to spend all day at the arcade. Or not. “We did Mad Games,” says Erika. It’s basically bowling 2.0. “There’s 100 different games you can play on the lanes. I have toddlers. My toddlers do single-ball, 5-frame games. They don’t have to wait for their ball to come back to finish their turn; it’s the next person’s turn already.”

Photograph Barbara Wilson

Mad Games also has a lot of unique games, like one where you’re building a monster by knocking down pins. Then there are games where you play against the lane next to you and catapult boulders at their castle. Erika describes it as “real bowling meets the Wii.” Orly says, “It’s probably one of the most kid-friendly bowling alleys you’ve ever been to.”

And because no two bowlers are the same, The 300 Club rents lanes by the hour. This way, the bowler who wants to up their game can get in several games for the same price a family with a four-year-old takes to finish one. The lane is yours, so bounce between Mad Games and work on certain pin setups if you’d like.

Photograph by Barbara Wilson

That’s right, different pin setups. Though it’s not yet widely accepted, The 300 Club uses string pin setters. “They’re not sanctioned for league play,” says Erika. “But they’re amazing for kids or league bowlers who just want to practice because we can reset exactly the pins they want to practice on.” Erika also says that, though there’s stigma, when professional bowlers threw 1,000 balls at free-standing pins and string pins, there was only around a one-pin difference on average.

As mentioned, it’s really three areas: the arcade, the bar, and the alley. Out back they did a 75-foot patio, and the arcade takes up 3,000 square feet along with the party rooms. “We really are just giant kids around here,” says Orly. “People will have a couple drinks then they’ll be sitting in the Jurassic Park game.”

The bar has domestic beers and local Knuth favorites. The kitchen serves up specialty chef-designed burgers. It really seems like all the stops were pulled out to make this the place to hang out. “This is what we’ve done so far,” says Erika. “But we’re not done yet.”

Kyle Jacobson is a writer and senior copy editor for Green Lake Magazine.