It’s a win-win situation for Robert Lashly, former owner, and incoming Shawn and Marlene Prall in the recent transaction which took place on Sept. 1 this year. The Pralls will be the Riverside Lanes fourth owners since it was built in 1956.

Shawn and Marlene have two children, Clay (senior this year), and Dustin (sophomore) plus three stepchildren, Crystal, Karina and Jared, and three grandchildren, Angel, Christian, and Kayzen. They also raised three Cambodian children.

Shawn said his family is really excited but they aren’t ready to move quite yet. They want to finish their school terms. He said the kids like bowling, but are not active in other sports, with the exception of Clay, who used to be a rugby player. He did really well and went to nationals twice. He cleared a second once.

Robert, when asked why he chose to sell the business, commented that he’d had the business for 34 years.

“My family has grown up here. My wife and I started here and she passed away. It’s just time for me to retire. I passed it on to Shawn.”

When asked, ‘You’re still going to bowl?,’ his answer was a prompt, “Oh yeah!”

“Most of the people who come n here are like family to me because I’ve been with them so long. I’ve grown up with them. They were little kids, then big kids, then kids who had kids and then it all started over again. So I’ve gone through three generations and I think that’s the neatest part of the whole thing. Generation after generation still bowling, still coming in. Personally, that’s the things that I remember.”

In fact, it’s a bit like a family exchange, since Shawn started coming to the bowling alley with his family when he was only five years old and has continued to come all through the years. It was with joy then, that Robert handed over the keys to Shawn, knowing that it was the “right time” and the “right person” for the switch.

Shawn says, “I’ve been involved in bowling ever since I was five. Robert had a Junior program and I came in and bowled juniors. They weren’t going to let me bowl because I was too young and they said, ‘Oh, you can’t keep your focus for three games,’ but I was able to so I got to bowl and my grandparents all bowled here and my parents, so that’s just how it works.

“My family has had a few bowling centers since I was eight years old, and I like helping people and being around people. I’ve always liked bowling. We were living in Grangeville and would travel to Orofino often to bowl. This has been my favorite one out of all of them for some reason, partly because of the river nearby.

“I lived in Grangeville for 19 years, then I lived in the Lewis/Clark Valley for about 10 years, and then I lived in California for 15 years. I wanted to come back, so I bought this business. It has been my way back home.

“What I did before as a career is not done up here. I worked in the oil industries as a water specialist. I did oil, water and solid separations. I would pull the oil out of the solids, then separate the water and oil so you could have three phases to clean up for the environment. You could reuse the water, reuse the oil and clean the dirt. The Riverside Lanes were an answer for me to affect the change.”

There are going to be some changes in the future, some of which have already taken place. The machines for keeping scores are already changed and new monitors are up. The two broken lanes are now functioning and some clean up paint has been applied in several areas. A light show is being added, some of which has started already. This lighting part of the revamp has a goal of Oct. 30 to be fully in place.

I asked, “Are you going to keep the purple?”

Shawn smiled, “That’s Robert’s color.”

It was at that point when Robert walked in and said, “That’s my color!”

Shawn said some of it is going to remain and that they were just going to mix it up a bit. They want to continue the tradition.

“We want to increase the amount of video games, we have already added three new ones, a juke box and speakers for Friday and Saturday nights. At eight o’clock on those nights we’ll shut off the lights, turn on the light show and music and just let them bowl.”

Currently there are three leagues: Tuesday morning, Tuesday night and Wednesday night. The number to call if you want to get involved is 208-476-4914. Everyone is welcome.

On Mondays there will be a TRIO League for adults and kids combos. An example would be one parent with two kids or a grandparent and two kids, a couple with one kid, etc. Whole families are welcome and encouraged to come to participate.

Tuesday mornings at 10 a.m. is LEFT OVERS League - a mixed league for men and women. When this original league began they had one league going, but then the first league got full, so the left over people began the LEFT OVERS league. The name has stuck!

Tuesday night is the 9-PIN- No Tap – League for doubles. Every seven weeks it renews and gets new bowlers that want to come in. (Google describes 9-pin no tap bowling this way: In a no-tap format, strikes are awarded for any pin count at or above a certain score. That is, in 9-pin no-tap bowling, any bowler who knocks down 9 or more pins on his, or her, first ball is awarded a strike.)

For brand new bowlers you are welcome to come and learn. Shawn is on hand to help out and give pointers. He says, “Come join and have some fun.” Six people have already come in and learned more about the sport. “Future bowlers is what it’s all about.

“We will be throwing in some fun tournaments as well as concentrating on the juniors on Mondays. We want to get more kids involved. I want to get the High School League going next year.”

Robert suggested, “When school gets back going you should go for a Junior League as soon as possible. We did one in January.”

Shawn agreed, but was not sure how soon, due to all the changes taking place as well as the Covid outbreak.

“One of the reasons for Junior League and the TRIO League is families. We want interest and participation in bowling to continue to increase for the families in the Clearwater Valley and surrounding areas. We’ve got food, arcade games, bowling, family oriented fun, and we’ve included music and a juke box.

“One of the things I want to get involved with is the special needs kids. I want to get a special needs program going so that they have a place to bowl. They have the Special Olympics in the Lewiston/Clarkston area every year. The kids come in here and practice and then they compete in the Special Olympics. I want to make it so they come in once a week, make it a regular thing so they can come in and do a league tournament, or if they want to just practice they can, just to get them more involved.”

Robert had something to say about how all this got started and he is pleased that Shawn wants to continue with it.

“I’ve known most of our special needs kids since they were little. Most of them have been coming in here all the time. I’ve watched them grow up. I’ve seen that they like bowling and they like interaction with the others, both kids and grownups. When they came in we gave them special discounts. They’d come in to practice and then go to Lewiston to qualify. If they qualified then they could go to State for a National Tournament. Some of those kids feel like my own.”

Changes are in store in the kitchen as well. Some menu items have been added already: hot dogs, chili dogs, chili burgers, nachos, and more of the fun foods, easy, quick, grab it and go type stuff. They have added floats to the menu as well. Some structural improvements are also planned.

One thing everyone will be happy about is, Jo Adams, the cook who has been with Riverside Lanes through the owners for 40 years, is remaining. Her comments were, “It’s been good. I keep staying here all these years. It’s good and the new owners are just wonderful, and so are the old ones. We have a good business and we all work really hard. I see a lot of changes going on and they’re all for the good. Shawn’s making it a lot easier for us girls in the kitchen with all the things he is doing. Everything is looking good everywhere. We’re all really happy.

“I’ve done it all. I’ve waited tables. I’ve worked out here in the bowling area, Pretty awesome. I’m 80 years old and I’m still going.”

And going she is, always with her smile.

A plus for the café is that all the burgers are hand made with fresh meat every day. Since the Covid outbreak, to go orders have increased phenomenally and it sounds like there will be a need for some help during extremely busy league hours. Also, more people have discovered it is really convenient to order take out and skip the cooking at home in the evenings.

A couple of stories about their burgers, which are well known, couldn’t help but come out. It seems there is a certain motorcycle group that comes through from Spokane on their way to Montana. Every time they call ahead to make sure they can stop for burgers at Riverside Lane both going and coming on their trip.

Another couple makes their way down from Grangeville every week just to have a burger and a drive.

Added to the kitchen, Shawn wants to reconstruct the bathrooms to be more handicap accessible as well as putting in a bigger arcade and more seating for the café.

A future dream for Shawn is to put in a pro shop so he can test and drill bowling balls for people. He wants to supply shoes, apparel and all the things needed for bowling.

Shawn and Robert both complemented the staff. Without the staff they said they could not do it.

Shawn made it clear, “I definitely want to say something about our staff. Our heart and soul is our staff. Patti Bangle is the bringer of the rain and everybody else is amazing. Would never want to try to do it without them.”

Robert added, “Employees are the heart of the business. My biggest fear of selling the bowling alley was the fact that somebody would buy it just for the land and not a bowling alley and that’s one of the main reasons I’m glad to see Shawn and his family come in here. They will continue what we did for the last 34 years.”

Turning to Shawn he added, “I’m glad you’re here. I think you’ll carry on really well.”

Shawn said, “The community has been very supportive, they’re super friendly people and I really enjoy that.”

Upcoming Monte Carlo Extravaganza

Shawn has plans coming up. He says, “For Halloween we are having a Monte Carlo Extravaganza, $15/person and we have colored pins. If you get a strike with a colored pin you get a chance to win prizes. There will also be a ticket drawing. If you get drawn you have to go up and draw a strike on two lanes and get a prize. If you wear a costume you are eligible to get an extra ticket to be in the drawing one more time. We’re limited to 40 people for the bowling. It’s filling up quick so everyone interested better hurry and sign up!

Riverside Lanes is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturdays 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. They are closed Sundays.

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