On a Roll
A 1970s Steamboat bowling alley undergoes a modern overhaul
Photography by Benjamin Saheb
Steamboat Springs’ Snow Bowl is not the kitschy dive bar and bowling-centric alley it once was—and that’s exactly what Western Centers had in mind when revamping the local landmark’s aesthetic.
Virtually untouched since its opening in 1977, the rehabilitated venue is now an entertainment hub offering that quintessential après experience—with a dose of sophistication—on the west side of the Colorado town.
The refurbished community table is made of upcycled bowling lanes providing a gathering space for guests to savor specialty-curated libations with bites to eat. “The alley and restaurant are inviting and family-friendly while maintaining that upper scale feel and vibe,” says Chef Pete List.
From old school alley to chic restaurant and bar, the space has seen a transformation not only in design but also in atmosphere, drawing in dedicated bowlers and everyday diners.
The Western Centers team worked with MasterBuild architect Jim Schneck to see their modern art-deco concept come to fruition. Behind the retro maple lanes, outdated scoring monitors and limeade green-hued walls was a 10,000-square-foot-space with good architectural bones desperate for a modern facelift.
“We wanted to take that tired old building and reinvent it and make it a year-round space for both locals and tourists,” Schneck says. “The difference between old and new ‘are like night and day.’”
The alley has 12 lanes for bowling, exposed steel beams and an intricate metallic mural of Mount Werner and Fish Creek Falls hand-painted by local artist Julia Dordoni. Once described as having the exterior of an automotive repair center, the redeveloped center touts an updated outdoor patio, repurposed 25-foot-long bar made of old bowling lanes and a contemporary 2,500-square-foot restaurant for a brand-new feel.
The interior boasts an alpine landscape that took over three months to complete, with immaculate detail of ski resort runs and fauna painted by artist Julia Dordoni.
With epicures now welcome too, patrons can feast on seasonal and Colorado-grown fare curated by Pete List, former chef of Sweet Pea Market, the Truffle Pig and Denver’s Beatrice & Woodsley.
“The menu prior to the remodel was your typical bowling alley fare. We didn’t want to stray too far from approachable food—rather, we are doing things from scratch and using high-quality (and local) ingredients as much as possible,” List says.
Fresh breads, award-winning green chili, spicy blueberry mustards and smoked meats all make appearances on the menu, swapping out the rolling hot dogs and greasy fare that previously came from the kitchen. The bar even has broadened beyond canned brews, with sips from local breweries like Butcherknife, Storm Peak and Yampa Valley Brewing Co. rotating draft offerings for guests.
Lace up for a round of bowling at one of the 12 state-of-the-art lanes available.
“We get a good mix of people that are coming in strictly for the bowling and their mind is blown by the food—and others are coming in daily just for the food and having that option on the west end of town that really hadn’t been there before,” Corey Wagner, executive vice president of Western Centers, explains.
An ode to Steamboat’s rooted mountainside past and ascending modern future, Snow Bowl’s meticulously embedded design cleverly nods back to its former interior—with fun still rooted at the core.
As seen in the January/February 2020 issue