Dart Bowl and Dart Bowl Cafe, the 62-year-old old-school bowling alley and Tex-Mex restaurant, are closing in Brentwood, as reported by Austin 360. “With a heavy heart, we must close our doors,” the bowling alley shared on Facebook. Its last day of service will be on Friday, July 17.
Dart Bowl’s permanent shutter is because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, as the institution couldn’t financially continue to stay open. Co-owner John Donovan noted to Austin 360 that they received a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan while the bowling alley and restaurant were forced to close by state orders in order to mitigate the spread of the virus starting in mid-March. Both reopened for service as soon as it was able to legally in mid-May, with mitigation measures in place, limited capacity, and modified hours. However, with the ongoing increasing number of cases and hospitalizations in the city, business was still too slow.
Dart Bowl originally opened in 1958 along Burnet Road. Donovan’s grandfather, Harry Peterson, eventually took the business over, joining forces with co-owners Jerry and Betty Ray in 1958. They relocated the bowling alley onto Grover Lane in 1997. Donovan took his grandfather’s place after he passed away in 1999.
The restaurant was known for its easy-going American and Tex-Mex fare, from iconic enchiladas to chicken fried steak to burgers to breakfast. It opened in 1960 within the bowling alley under Butch Martinets, who had spent time at another now-gone Austin institution, Hill’s Cafe. Longtime restaurant staffer Peggy Zamarripa took over the restaurant after he passed away earlier this year.
The Rays and Peterson also opened two other bowling alleys around the city: Highland Lanes at 8909 Burnet Road in 1978 in the Wooten neighborhood, and Westgate Lanes at 2701 West William Cannon Drive in 1978 in the South Austin area, both of which include American restaurant Lebowski’s Grill. When Dart Bowl closes, these two bowling alleys will remain open.