Beacon Bowl and Chippewa Bowl face off in the battle of the alleys as Scene judges which lane is the best bowl for your buck
By JEFF BALTRUZAK
Imagine a perfect evening in South Bend: the loud crashing, the smell of old dirty shoes and the squeals of delighted townies.
A weekday night at the Boat Club?
Hardly. The 10-mile radius outside of Notre Dame contains two bowling alleys — Chippewa Bowl, south of downtown on Chippewa Street, and Beacon Bowl on Lincoln Way West near the airport.
But which wins the Battle of the Alleys?
Atmosphere and Food
Beacon Bowl, by the South Bend Airport, is a quintessential bowling alley, straight out of "Kingpin"or "The Big Lebowski." The visitor enters the building to find 52 lanes of hardwood in what Beacon employee Cheryl Deardurff calls "one big straight line."
The alley has the traditional snack bar with pizza, hamburgers and French fries, and the usual assortment of hard-core bowlers and little kids' birthday parties, with open lanes every night for those who like to drop in.
Chippewa answers with an insane 70 lanes of bowling action, set inside a building that looks like the safest place to be if the Russians ever bomb South Bend. As employee Janet Briones says, "the advantage of 70 lanes is that we have open bowling every night."
Chippewa also features a fully stocked snack bar, with mozzarella sticks and jalepeno poppers as specialties.
Both alleys open at 9 a.m. every day and close at midnight on weekdays and 2 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.
In terms of atmosphere and food, advantage Chippewa.
There's no arguing with lane number supremacy and jalepeno poppers.
One of the most essential parts of any bowling alley is the arcade.
After all, bowling can't be the only distraction if a visitor is only rolling up scores under 100.
Clearly, Chippewa Bowl has the advantage in this critical category. Their games are concentrated in one area, while Beacon Bowl has them spread out down the concourse, discouraging the lazy college student from travelling from game to game.
Beacon Bowl, strangely, lacks pool tables in its lounge area. Chippewa has them, however, providing another source of entertainment besides just bowling.
The folks at Beacon strike back with a quality darts facility in their lounge area. But once again, Chippewa gets the edge. Sure, bowling is fun, but visitors need a little extra.
Beer and College Night
Bowling and beer go together like macaroni and cheese. Low prices mean more drinking, which means more fun, and Beacon Bowl has better prices on pitchers, $6.50 versus $7.75 at Chippewa. Beacon features the usual selection of domestic brews on tap, including Miller Lite, Budweiser and Bud Light, as well as additional varieties of bottles.
For solitary drinkers, both facilities will charge $1.65 for a glass on tap, but Chippewa charges 15 cents less for bottles.
Beacon and Chippewa feature College Night on Thursdays, and Beacon has it on Mondays as well. Both offer the same deal: $5.95 for unlimited bowling between 9 p.m. and midnight.
For those patrons fortunate to have their own bowling shoes, they avoid the extra charge for those spiffy clown shoes with the funny smell.
Sadly, neither alley's College Night has any discounts for beer or food, but Beacon throws in a free soda, included in the $5.95 charge.
Beacon receives the advantage in this category, and a bonus point for the extra College Night.
That brings the score of the Battle of the Alleys to 2-2.
Chippewa has really cool bowling balls, nudging them over the finish line. Beacon is a fine alley with fine people, but as Boines put it, "Chippewa's a better center."
All Scene Stories for Friday, November 17, 2000