The year 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic brought many changes to the world and this community, and among the things lost to history was a mainstay of entertainment and dining in Anacortes over four decades.
The former San Juan Lanes Bar & Grill bowling alley and restaurant closed in October and has a new owner, but future plans for the building haven’t been made public. What is clear is that bowling almost certainly won’t be part of whatever it becomes of the 17,142-square-foot building and its 34,876-square-foot lot.
When the business was closed in the fall, the lanes were dismantled and the equipment removed and sold. It marked the end of an era. The place was as known for its fish and chips, anytime breakfast and children’s birthday parties as it was for league and tournament bowling (the site had an arcade and a banquet room for meetings and parties).
According to records available online from the Skagit County Assessor, Jedi Holdings LLC of Sedro-Woolley purchased the property for $2 million from Daryl and Teresa Wainman of Anacortes. The listing price was $2.4 million.
“We tried hard to find another bowling operator, but it wasn’t in the cards,” said Matt Steiner, the Wainmans’ agent and vice president of the Behar Company Commercial Real Estate Services in Seattle.
When the Wainmans first listed the property in 2019, San Juan Lanes was described as “a well-established and profitable set of businesses.” In March 2020, bowling was among the activities that had to stop due to restrictions on indoor gatherings during the pandemic.
Funds from the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act ran out, Steiner said. Seven months into the pandemic, the lanes and restaurant were shuttered for good.
Although the Wainmans were ready to retire, the closure was “a bittersweet thing,” Steiner said. “We all hate to see it go.”
The American reached out unsuccessfully to the Wainmans and to Lance Campbell, principal of Jedi Holdings, for comment.
Two bowling alleys remain in Skagit County, in Mount Vernon and Sedro-Woolley.
San Juan Lanes opened at 2821 Commercial Ave. in September 1960, though the business was formerly located on the second floor of the Phillips Building, 918 Fourth St.
The Wainmans purchased San Juan Lanes Bar & Grill and the property in 2010 for $1.4 million from David and Valerie Storkson, according to the Skagit County Assessor’s Officer online database.
“We’d been taking the kids here since they were children,” Daryl Wainman said in September 2010 after he and his wife purchased the business. “It was a happening place. I had a fantasy of what a great business this would be to own.”
At the time, he referred to San Juan Lanes as “a community center” and “an institution in the town,” adding, “People have been coming here their whole lives with their children and grandchildren.”
San Juan Lanes bowling manager Ken Markel said in 2019 that the Wainmans were good owners. They upgraded equipment and added elements that gave the lanes a retro feel. Signage reflected a 1960s style. The lanes were wood. The bowling shop counter was made of boards from lanes at Daffodil Bowl in Puyallup.
“It’s a good, family establishment,” Markel said at the time. While bowling alleys often have restaurants, Markel noted the popularity of San Juan Lanes’ clam chowder and fish-and-chips and quipped, “We’re a restaurant with a bowling alley.”
Steiner said he couldn’t predict what the future holds for 2821 Commercial Ave., but the property is in “quite a hot area.”
“Commercial Avenue (part of Highway 20) gets 17,000 to 18,000 cars per day,” he said. “The trade-area demographics are still very strong, (drawing visitors) south from Oak Harbor and east from Mount Vernon. I know a number of national tenants that are looking right now.”
Major remodels within the last two years include the Barrett Financial Services building, formerly owned by the Samish Indian Nation for its health and human services offices; and the Jimmy John’s sandwich shop, formerly home of Select Styling. The city redeveloped a right of way it owns between Jimmy John’s and Penguin Coffee into a pocket park, which it named for former City Council member Erica Pickett.
Steiner handled the April 2019 sale of a lot at 913 Commercial Ave., between Starbucks and Whistle Veterinary Clinic. Challenge Investments LLC of Coupeville, which owns the neighboring properties occupied by Whistle Veterinary, Jilian G Salon and Verizon Wireless, bought the vacant parcel from Banner Bank for $430,000. The property is being made available for lease, according to signage at the site.
Madrona Real Estate Services, which owns the Fidalgo Square Shopping Center at 18th and Commercial, is building a five-story apartment building, Fidalgo Flats, one block west at 18th and O Avenue.
The former Ronk Bros. Heating and Cooling site, 2913 Commercial Ave., was recently demolished and the property made ready for new development. Savi Bank purchased the property on Aug. 28, 2019, for a little over $1 million, according to the Assessor’s records. Savi Bank vice president/branch manager Melissa King said Monday a new Savi Bank branch with drive-thru will be built there; the Anacortes branch is currently in a leased space.
Construction continues on The Salish Inn, a four-story hotel at 30th Street and Q Avenue, one block east of Commercial Avenue.
The City of Anacortes is finalizing its plans for Commercial Avenue from 11th to 13th streets; those plans will include bicyclist, pedestrian and vehicle safety improvements, as well as landscape beautification. The city ultimately wants to extend those improvements down South Commercial Avenue, including some small park space.