Jupiter Bowl closes after a decade in Kimball Junction
After a decade operating in Kimball Junction, Jupiter Bowl closed its doors for the last time Sunday.
The bowling alley hosted countless parties, fundraisers and events, co-founder Amy Baker said, providing a place for kids and families to go on a cloudy day or after a long day skiing.
“I’m so sad, I can’t even tell you,” Baker said. “It was kind of my baby. We thought it was so good for the city.”
Baker explained the financial burdens they faced and that, after a third rent increase, the four-person ownership group decided it couldn’t keep throwing money into the venture.
“If we could break even, we’d keep it open forever,” she said.
There was thought of moving down to Salt Lake City, but after a trip spent scouting locations, Baker said the partners realized it didn’t fit with what they were trying to do.
“We looked at each other and said this isn’t going to help Park City,” Baker said.
Longtime employee and general manager Peter O’Brien said he has overwhelmingly positive memories of working at the bowling alley.
“The staff had the best job in town,” O’Brien said.
He said the crew relished throwing big parties and having to take care of giant crowds with a small team. O’Brien picked up a varied skill set in his time at the alley, working his way up from mechanic to general manager. He has an average bowling score of 217, he said, knows how to bartend and wait tables, and can also fix lanes and bowling equipment.
He looked back fondly on the fast pace and varying job responsibilities.
Baker said the employee roster averaged around 16-20 people, and that everyone ranging from liquor and food distributors to people who had registered for leagues to employees had been paid out.
“We’re not leaving anybody in the lurch,” she said.
Jupiter Bowl was born more than a decade ago during a conversation between the Bakers and Tony Thomas, a third member of the ownership group. The fourth partner is Mike Malone, Baker said.
“We were just talking and (Thomas) said, ‘You know what this town needs? It needs an entertainment center with bowling.’ And I said, ‘Exactly,’” Baker recalled. “It was just perfect.”
Within a year or so, in November 2009, the doors officially opened in Kimball Junction.
Baker said where she grew up, in Reading, Pennsylvania, there wasn’t much else to do for fun outside of the town’s bowling alley. Her husband, Barry Baker, and father-in-law were also avid bowlers.
She’d long thought Park City needed more for kids to do and a place for families to go, so despite frequently losing money, they kept the alley going.
“We kept it open, to be very honest, because we thought it was a wonderful thing for the community,” Baker said. “There comes a point where it’s just too expensive.”
Over the years, O’Brien said, Jupiter Bowl was involved in many philanthropic efforts, sponsoring an annual Toys for Tots campaign, road races, golf tournaments and giving out donations “for just about every blind raffle during the holidays.”
Baker said, even though the venture lost money, she’s glad they did it.
“So many people had so much fun all those years,” she said. “In a way, it was kind of an investment in people’s happiness.”
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