Lucky Strike Lanes owner, Chuck Kane
When Chuck Kane accepted a consulting job in Warsaw seven years ago, he thought it would be a one-year commitment. But earlier this summer, after seven years in Warsaw, the Elwood native decided it was time to come home, where he could apply his professional expertise to updating his own business, Lucky Strike Lanes. Since then, that’s where his entire focus has been.
“We’ve been tweaking old ideas,” Chuck said, “stealing some and coming up with new ones all our own. … We have a lot of potential. If our stars align, we’ll have some success.”
Lucky Strike Lanes and Chuck Kane have been nearly inseparable for most of his life. As he explained, Jack and Wuanita Wright built Lucky Strikes Lanes in 1962, and eight years later, he went to work for them.
“In 1980,” Chuck said, I purchased the place on a handshake. It was part of the deal when I came to work for them that I could have first dibs when they decided to retire.”
For the next 30 years, Chuck was implementing bowling leagues and activities that would catch on with a variety of members in the community.
“We’d come up with different formats for the bowlers,” he said, “always trying something new, and that’s what we’re doing again – transitioning away from being a traditional bowling center to having different programs, such as parties and ‘fun’ raisers, and doing more with restaurant and the lounge.”
Besides the lounge, which he named Kegler’s Inn, Lucky Strike Lanes is home to a 1950s style restaurant called Sally’s Diner, a redemption arcade with prizes (“Chucky Cheese has nothing on us,” he says.), a conference room, and 12 bowling lanes.
Chuck explained that he’ll offer open bowling with packages for families, date nights, or parties. There will be a Ladies’ Night Out on Wednesdays starting in September.
“We’ll have lots of offerings,” he said, “and then we’ll see what sticks. We’ll be offering amenities on a smaller scale of what the big boys are doing. We’ll also have a rewards card, and I promise to have more surprises and an entertainment focus.”
Most customers appreciate that Lucky Strike Lanes is a smoke-free facility. However, smokers are still welcome to light up in an area Chuck reserved for them outside the building on the north side and southwest corner.
Chuck grew up in Elwood and was a member of the Wendell Willkie High School Class of 1965, whose claim to fame, according to Chuck, was “beating the basketball team that beat the team that won the 1964 state championship.” He’s referring to the night the Elwood Panthers handed the then-undefeated, number-one rated Tipton Blue Devils their first loss during regular season play. The night was February 7, 1964, the score was 74-72, and Chuck, who was the Panther team’s manager, is still gloating.
More recently, his favorite Elwood event is the annual Glass Festival.
“I never miss it,” he said. “There’s a great future here, and I’d call the Glass Festival an event that emphasizes the positive.”
Asked what he sees as Elwood’s most underutilized asset, Chuck answered, “The talents of the people who are here.”
Perhaps that’s what motivated him to apply his entrepreneurial talents to improving his business here in Elwood, as well as to run for Elwood City Council, a position he was elected to in 2016.
Whether serving the city as an elected leader or developing innovative ways people can get out, bowl a few games, enjoy a tasty meal, or enjoy the arcade, Chuck Kane is proud to be giving back to his home town.
“When people stop by, they’re looking to have a good time,” he said. “We’re here to sell them some fun at a fair price and create some happy memories.” ●
LUCKY STRIKE LANES