You don’t need to live near the Jersey Shore to know that Asbury Park has been experiencing a phenomenal resurgence. Over the past decade, the boardwalk town has emerged as a premiere dining destination thanks to its burgeoning restaurant scene. Locals can soon anticipate another surge in visitors as the iconic Asbury Lanes, where bowling and rock-n-roll collide, prepares to reopen just in time for Memorial Day weekend.
Following a half-century of use, structural and mechanical issues plagued the Lanes, which faced imminent danger of closing – or demolition. Fortunately, the venue, which has played host to musical acts including The Bouncing Souls and Mick Jones of The Clash as well as countless others, will be lovingly-restored to retain as many of its original features as possible. Music fans eager to hear which acts will headline the hotspot won’t have to wait much longer. The Lanes first opening act will be announced this spring, and there’ll be plenty of space for all as the original capacity of 300 will more than double.
“Everyone has an Asbury Lanes story,” said David Bowd, Salt Hotels, who will operate the Lanes. “Emotions ran higher with this project than with anything we’ve undertaken. What mattered to them matters to us: keeping the soul of this incredible venue while making changes necessary to guarantee its future.”
A “secret” passage will run between the Lanes and The Asbury, the hotel next door that set the stage for Asbury Park’s comeback as the centerpiece of the widely acclaimed, multi-billion-dollar redevelopment of Asbury Park by real-estate investment company iStar. Designed by world-renowned Anda Andrei, President of Anda Andrei Design, The Asbury was ranked the best new hotel in a USA Today poll, and hailed as “one of the world’s best new hotels” by Travel + Leisure.
The Lanes and the hotel will also share a philosophy, noted Bowd, who is also operator and co-owner of The Asbury. “At the hotel, there’s a performance or event every night. People have been thrilled with the quality of food and drink. That will all carry over. Yes, the Lanes will have incredible ticketed events (with many booked by The Bowery Presents, the leading New York City-based concert promoter on the East Coast). But most of the time, it will be open to everyone as a great place to hang in an amazing location.”
Bringing a legend back to life wasn’t without its challenges. Though not apparent from the outside, the building required “extensive work,” according to architect Dominic Kozerski of New York’s acclaimed bonetti/kozerski, who was hired by Andrei to “rejuvenate” the building.
“We want to amplify what’s already here,” said Brian Cheripka, Senior Vice President, iStar. “We have an opportunity to capture Asbury Park’s incredible sense of place through the properties we are developing and although it involved a much greater investment than building a new building, we chose to restore as much of the original building as we could. iStar CEO Jay Sugarman also happens to be a passionate bowler and his appreciation of the Lanes goes even deeper. Everyone involved recognized the responsibility in revitalizing a venue with such meaning.”
As for the exterior, the Lanes’ world famous bowling-pin sign, beloved by locals, will get reinstalled after a painstaking restoration, while its classic logo will receive a modern twist on the newly white washed exterior brick walls. The famous ocean-maid mural by local Asbury Park artist Pork Chop will get refreshed and expanded; a real beam of light will stream from the lighthouse in the maiden’s hand. iStar will commission Pork Chop for a second mural, depicting an entangled octopus and squid, on the building’s opposite side.
As everyone knows, bowling and rock-n-roll will whet your appetite. With that in mind, a brand new, built-from-scratch diner, open 24 hours during peak season, will serve hungry patrons while relying on local purveyors and farms for its menu of updated favorites.
Bowlers will be delighted to learn that Brunswick, the world’s leader in bowling machinery, created a special pin-setting machine for Asbury Lanes at the urging of iStar’s Sugarman. Bowling will be celebrated throughout the Lanes, with an American flag made of red, white, and blue bowling balls and a bowling-shoe rental counter constructed from wood salvaged from the Lanes’ original lanes.
To stay updated on the reopening of Asbury Lanes or to learn about job opportunities, visit the venue’s website.