Resch Lanes carry on a business started 70 years ago

The bowling alley has only changed hands three times
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PHOTO BY MIRIAM NELSON CARRYING ON THE BOWLING TRADITION: Owners Jason and Jenny Resch purchased LA Lanes in 2008 and renamed it Resch Lanes. The bowling alley has only changed hands three time in seventy years.

The Wittenberg Bowling Center opened in fall 1947. Local resident Pat Gunderson started bowling there a year later, shortly after returning home from the Army.

Seventy years later, under only its third set of owners, the center is still going strong under the name Resch Lanes, and Gunderson, 89, is still a loyal customer.

“I don’t bowl on a league anymore, but I fill in from time to time when needed because it’s still fun,” Gunderson said.

The center has been providing fun for local residents and supporting local causes throughout its history.

When the bowling center opened, it was owned and operated by brothers Alex and Ted Deruchowski along with Ted’s sons, Teddy Jr. and Terry. Alex eventually left the business, and another brother, John, stepped in to help.

The center was sold to Lyle Garton and Dave Sickler in 1986. They ran the center for three years, and then Sickler went back to teaching.

Garton continued to run the center with his wife, Ann Schmidt, until 2008 when they sold the bowling center to current owners Jason and Jenny Resch.

The Resches haven’t changed much inside the bowling alley, other than upgrading the electronic scoring system.

Garton and Schmidt had done major renovations by making the bar area all one space. Originally, there was a lounge bar for the adults on one side, and a dairy bar on the other side for the kids.

“In 2001, we did a major renovation of the whole building. It was a lot of mess and hard work,” Schmidt said. “Many of our customers, who became our dear friends, helped us in this huge undertaking. Hands down, the best rewards of running the business was meeting people. Plus we had some of the funnest bartenders and customers.”

The Resches have expanded the menu, trying different items.

“Burgers, pizzas and nachos are the standard fare,” Jenny said. “ We don’t try to be who we’re not. It’s a family place.”

They began serving broasted chicken on Saturdays and Sundays, and Wednesday is now Chinese night with fried rice and chicken with a choice of various sauces. Jason noted that they start serving at 4 p.m. and usually sell out by 7 p.m.

Bowling season runs from September to April. Some leagues bowl once a month, some twice a month, some weekly.

“We’ve been fortunate,” Jason said. “We have the same number of bowlers as when we took over.”

The bean-bag toss caught on during the summer. Jason said they had 52 players each week.

Junior bowling has also been successful. Besides fostering the students’ love of the game, the Resches have handed out $10,000 in scholarships in the past 10 years.

Sometimes success is unplanned. Pretty in Pink is an annual cancer awareness fundraiser held at the WOWSPACE. After the first year, some attendees didn’t want to go home and wound up at Resch Lanes.

“This year, we will offer a pink drink special and we’ll have a DJ,” Jason said. “It’s become a nice after-party event that wasn’t planned.”

Jason and Jenny have two children: a daughter, Miranda, 22; and a son, Dylan, 20. They grew up working at the bowling alley seeing firsthand what it takes to run a successful business.

In another six or seven years, the Resches will be looking to move on to their next adventure — whatever that might be, they said — and hopefully there will be someone else to carry on the bowling tradition.