Historically, Ottawa has been a good bowling town and can be a good bowling town again.
That was just one of many deliverances to come Friday afternoon from Dr. Ken Frank and his wife Shelly, the primary owners of Ottawa’s newest development — Fusion Alley and PrimeTime Grille, a 12-lane bowling alley and restaurant set to be constructed in the former DIY building, 2204 Princeton Circle Drive, Ottawa.
“I feel like we have been blessed in many ways to be in Ottawa for a long time and I feel the hand of the Lord on this project,” Ken told to those gathered Friday inside the currently vacant building. “I know the other people involved with this feel the same way. This is something we are doing because we feel it is going to make Ottawa a better place. We are doing this is in a smart business way as well and we think it is going to do well, but our primary goal is to make Ottawa a better place to live, work and to elevate Ottawa.”
Construction is set to start next week and from there the project will move forward until the scheduled opening mid-August this year.
Fusion Alley is planned to be much more than a standard bowling alley. Along with the lanes and restaurant, there is a planned 40x40 party and special event room, according to the business website www.fusionalleyottawa.com. The restaurant will have a menu of gourmet burgers, with some steaks, salads, keto items, and an extensive appetizer menu. There will be a full-service bar, though ownership stresses the facility will always maintain a family-friendly atmosphere, according to a news release.
Perhaps the biggest part of the project for more serious bowlers will be the advanced bowling equipment. Plans are in store for state-of-the-art pinsetters that allow for special practice needs, as well as SPECTO — a training program for analyzing ball speed and angle, which is not available elsewhere in Kansas, the release said. Fusion Alley will also feature an advanced electronic management system that integrates food and beverage ordering at the bowling lanes, and allows for multi-platform social media marketing, the release added.
Ottawa University’s men’s and women’s bowling programs — currently competing in their second full season since inception in 2017 — are set to be a big utilizer of the new equipment. Until now, OU student-athletes had to travel to Royal Crest Lanes in Lawrence for practices.
“It is going to be a state-of-the-art practice facility,” Arabie Conner, OU director of athletics, said Friday. “We are so thankful for Royal Crest for working with us, but to have this kind of facility in town from a program standpoint and a student-athlete standpoint, it is going to be such a difference-maker. Coach [Geoff Poston] has done such an amazing job. He is a great recruiter and what this is going to add on top of what he has already built is going to be fun to watch.”
The new bowling alley will be 100 percent privately owned with no formal affiliation with Ottawa University and no support from property taxes, the release noted. The center will strive to serve needs for both the community and Ottawa University with the idea of bringing the two closer together as represented in the business name.
Additional owners/investors include local residents Bob and Pat Hayden, Betty Birzer, Drs. Rod and Jo McCalla and Deb Henningsen. Kansas State Bank is the project financer, Dials Construction in Ottawa is the deconstruction bid and the main construction will be bid out to local contractors. Jayhawk Bowling of Lawrence will install the lanes and bowling apparatus, Ken said.
The project currently has a cost range between $1.2 and $1.5 million, Ken said. But for the Franks — who have considered the concept for several years — finally seeing a game both enjoyed as kids and adults be back in the Ottawa community far outweighs any price tag.
“Ken has put his heart and soul into this,” Shelly Frank said. “When we came back to this location things just started falling into place. He has been working night and day. He’s had two full-time jobs and has just been going non-stop. I told Geoff [Poston, OU head bowling coach] a long time ago, ‘If anyone can make this happen, it’s Ken.’ He has worked so hard and our family has been supportive, but he is the one who has never ever given up.”