Bowling alley's new owners plan to remain involved in community

Family activity center will have some changes

March 12, 2000|By Jean Marie Beall | Jean Marie Beall,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

To Wayne Kraus, the new owner of Taneytown's Thunderhead Bowling Centre, the decision to buy the Carroll County property was pretty straightforward.

"The population is leaving Baltimore and coming to Carroll County," said Kraus, who owned a bowling alley in Parkville. "And I was attracted to the fact that we would own the property as well as the bowling center."

The bowling alley has been a staple in Taneytown since 1978, and, for a long time, one of the few recreational outlets. The Taneytown bowling alley is one of four in Carroll County -- the others are in Greenmount, Westminster and Mount Airy.

Although community officials were saddened to see owners Norman and Angie Rebert sell the business, they were relieved Kraus stepped forward and is eager to become a part of the community. The Reberts wanted to scale back their business operations to spend more time with their family.

"There were mixed emotions," said Nancy McCormick, director of Economic Development for Taneytown, about the change in ownership. "Angie had been a big supporter of the community."

McCormick made sure Kraus and his partners knew they were welcome in the community.

"I let them know what support they could get from the community and from my department," she said. "Their focus is to provide a family center for adults and children and to maintain the friendly atmosphere that Angie Rebert and her family had established. I think they're going to be a great asset."

The new owners have begun working with schools, encouraging students to achieve good grades and earn a free bowling game. The center continues to hold the monthly Taneytown Business Breakfast for local business owners.

Some changes are planned. For instance, the name has been changed slightly from Thunderhead Bowl and Family Fun Center, so the bowling alley would not be confused with the Reberts' alley in Gettysburg, Pa. Kraus also plans to add a lounge.

"Some people are concerned with our getting a liquor license and opening a lounge," said Mark Kraus, a part-owner who left his full-time insurance job to work with his father. "But if you go to an Orioles game, you can buy a beer. We're going to go slow with this. We're just going to serve beer and wine. We're not looking for people to just come in and drink."

To sell alcohol, the center has to serve a certain amount of food, Mark Kraus said. So, the bowling alley will open at 10 a.m. daily and serve lunch.

"And we're bringing back Linda Clingan, who worked the lunch counter for 20 years," he said.

Wayne Kraus said his interest in the business goes back to his love of bowling, which he has passed to his two sons, Mark and Greg, who are part-owners in the bowling alley. Greg Kraus, who is ranked among the top four duckpin bowlers in the state, will work part time and continue his job as an engineer for the U.S. Department of Defense.

The other owner is Carroll County resident Carol Whitenton, who lives in Manchester and owns 10 percent of the stock in the bowling alley, Wayne Kraus said.

"I was an avid bowler," said Wayne Kraus, who, according to Mark, won the national-level Dennis Doubles Tournament in the early 1970s. "You have to love the game to be in the business."

Kraus bought his first bowling alley in 1960.

"It was an 11-lane duckpin bowling alley in Highlandtown called Eastway Lanes," Kraus said. "We ran that until we ran into lease problems."

Kraus later owned bowling alleys in Parkville and Chestertown. He no longer owns the one in Parkville.

Bowling has declined in recent years, primarily because of lifestyle changes and the abundance of recreational activities.

"Back during its heydays of the 1960s and 1970s, a 28-lane bowling alley like this one would have four shifts of leagues, with five bowlers per lane, that would come to about 500 bowlers a day," Greg Kraus said. "Now, you may get 700 a week."

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