LAKE PLACID – The sign is up and the lanes are silent.
After a spring and summer of renovations and a large financial investment in upgrades in 2012, the last pin has dropped at Coz’s Sports Bar & Bowl, 800 U.S. 27.
And Friday morning, the owner of the bowling center, restaurant and bar had an official “for sale” sign up at the marquee site for bowling in southern Highlands County.
For bowlers like Edna Myatt of Sebring, there are now 18 less lanes for strikes, spares and gutter balls left in Highlands County,
Details why the bowling center closed and placed for sale weren’t available Friday. The center’s general manager, Dave Ridley, wouldn’t comment and referred Highlands Today to the owner, who didn’t return calls. He did say the bowling alley has been closed for about two weeks.
And word of its closing wasn’t good news and was a surprise to some bowlers, particularly those in leagues,
Between turns during a Jack Summer Seniors league series, league member and bowler Edna Myatt said she would miss the league bowlers in the Lake Placid area, but not necessarily the bowling facility. From January to August 2012, the owner of the alley - listed on the Highlands County Tax Collector as King Pin Inc. - invested in construction of a restaurant and upgrades in the center’s bar, including 25 high-definition, flat-screen televisions with five in the bowling alley and the rest in the restaurant and bar.
The Las Vegas-styled bar had a mirrored wall and multi-colored lights under glass shelves that housed the premium brands alcohol and glasses. The sports-bar restaurant offered pizzas, wings, hamburgers and deli sandwiches, and was open for lunch and dinner and accommodated up to 150 people.
According to the Florida Division of Hotel & Restaurants in the Department of Professional Regulation, the restaurant met inspection standards, but given one high-priority, one intermediate-priority and two basic violations during an inspection March 19. During a Sept. 24, 2013, inspection, six high, seven intermediate and seven basic violations were noted.
Between turns while bowling Friday morning at Sebring’s Heartland Bowl, 6800 N. U.S. 27, Myatt said she is a member of four bowling leagues in the county and bowled at Coz’s at least once a week. She said over the past two years, the lanes had gotten worse with wear for bowling and thought the owner put too much time and money into the restaurant and bar upgrades.
“It was OK, but the lanes got bad, so I hadn’t planned on going back there to bowl anyway,” she said. “They just put too much money into the restaurant and bar and did nothing to the lanes and the (pin set-up and ball-return) machines always broke down.”
The Highlands County Tax Collector’s office showed the owner of Coz’s last paid $6,147.52 in ad valorem taxes, including $975.75 to Lake Placid, Dec. 30, 2013.
Lake Placid Town Councilwoman Debra Worley, who works as a local real estate agent, said she felt “bad” for the owner due to the work that was put to upgrade in the past two years. She said she thought the owner was on the right track for increasing business.
“It’s really a shame. We thought its owner was doing really well and it was kind of a centerpiece for the community,” she said.
Coz’s closing shut down bowling for students at Lake Placid High School. Athletic Director John Million said the Lake Placid bowling team - six boys, six girls - decided to put the team on hiatus next season unless another Lake Placid bowling facility opens. One student, sophomore Christian DiNapoli, qualified for state finals last season, which ran from August to October.
“At this point, we talked to several athletes. We will not pursue gong to another facility to keep the team. The drive was too much to commit to,” he said.
In 2012, Lake Placid formed a bowling team and Coz’s gave team members free bowling and free practice on Friday afternoons.
While Myatt bowled, Heartland Bowl’s proprietor, Jack Kordusky, said despite Coz’s being a business competitor in the county, he wasn’t happy to see a bowling alley rack its last pins.
“I’m very sorry to see any bowling alley close. It impacts some of the beginning bowlers, some may just give up bowling. I never like to see alleys like that go out of business,” he said.