It was a sad day for many Teche Area bowlers when Bayou Pins Bowling Center closed its doors in late February.
But after only about 40 days, the facility between Main and St. Peter streets was purchased and renovated completely by a new owner who wants to see the bowling alley thrive for years to come in the Teche Area.
Cajun Bowl had its soft opening Friday. Local bowlers turned out and were surprised to find a completely refurbished building that was done thanks to the work of Franklin resident Carmen DiPaolantino, the center’s new owner.
DiPaolantino, a serious bowler herself, was as sad as the rest of the local community when news came that Bayou Pins was shutting its doors for good.
“When it closed, we thought we would have had to go to Lafayette or Morgan City to continue to bowl. The bowlers are like family to us, and we didn’t want to leave them,” DiPaolantino said.
Shortly after the closure, DiPaolantino got to work to give a new look to the building, easily putting in 12- to 15-hour days on Cajun Bowl. The bowling alley now features bowling and concessions, as well as a cafe where home-cooked plate lunches will be served seven days a week. New seating arrangements have been created in the area that once had the arcade in the bowling alley, and a new area to house a new pool hall and arcade is expected to be completed mid-week.
Cajun Bowl had a kickoff jambalaya tournament Saturday, complete with door prizes and a new menu for regulars to enjoy. It was an exciting atmosphere, and DiPaolantino said she hadn’t seen the building that busy in many years.
For those who bowled at Bayou Pins on a regular basis, the changes and upgrades have been nothing short of amazing. Steve “Rooster” Semar said he was a regular bowler at Bayou Pins, bowling on Mondays and Thursdays for league games.
But near the end of Bayou Pins’ tenure, Semar said he moved to the Lafayette bowling alley on Mondays, which may change with the new facility.
“The new place is awesome, love it,” Semar said. “Just the appearance is breathtaking. Given the amount of time they had to work on it, which was like 40 days, it’s truly amazing.”
Andrew Schwing was also on-site Saturday. A regular bowler who worked at the alley when he was in college, Schwing said he had a lot of memories at the New Iberia location and had known the previous two owners of the facility.
“I tell you what, this place has changed a lot,” Schwing said. “The renditions they’ve done are absolutely amazing. Just seeing there’s going to be a real pool hall and game room is great.”
Schwing said he remembers bowling at the alley since he was 13, and called it a home away from home. He said the resurfaced lanes, repairs and upgrades have assured him that the bowling alley is in the right hands.
“They’ve done all the necessary repairs to get it as close as it was when it was in its heyday,” Schwing said. “This place looks like it’s really thriving, and I have full faith in Carmen to bring it to its heydey again. The job they’ve done is absolutely amazing.”