BELFAST, Maine — The sounds of bowling balls rumbling down the lanes and cracking against candlepins might be heard again in Belfast, according to a Waldoboro couple that is applying to open a family entertainment center on U.S. Route 1.
Donald and Kelly Benson, who own ALLPLaY Family Entertainment Center in Waldoboro, have an option to purchase the former Jed’s Restaurant building on the east side of the city. Donald Benson said Wednesday that he and his wife are applying to the Belfast Planning Board for permits for indoor candlepin bowling and are also working to get financing to purchase the building from owner Kenneth Wentworth.
“The good Lord willing, I think we’ll be able to follow through with it,” he said. “The people up that way have been very receptive. People are excited about getting bowling back up there.”
The 9,000-square-foot building has been vacant for years, and was listed for sale for $225,000. The Bensons made an offer to purchase it for $205,000, which was accepted. They now are meeting with contractors to see about fixing it up and installing candlepin bowling lanes.
Donald Benson will come to the planning board on Wednesday, July 24, to seek a use permit to allow the entertainment facility, which will include eight candlepin bowling lanes, a video arcade, pool tables and a snack facility, according to Belfast City Planner Wayne Marshall.
Donald Benson said that he spent a career in the Air Force running recreational programs. When he retired to Lincolnville he took a job with MBNA’s Point Lookout in Northport, where he worked for a few years, once again managing a recreational and special events facility.
When he and his wife purchased a former bowling alley in Waldoboro, they knew what they wanted: a family-friendly place with good food and popular bowling leagues. He said they do a lot of children’s birthday parties, have chem-free nights and serve up fried seafood and steak-and-cheese bombs so popular that people come just to eat there. Together, the leagues and the food make up well over half of his business.
In Belfast, the Bensons would like to replicate these things and also add miniature golf and an arcade for kids.
“Hopefully, my wife and I will be able to make something happen,” he said.