A beloved bowling alley had its grand re-opening this past weekend in Port Hardy after being briefly shut down due to the pandemic.
Hardy Bay Lanes, previously North Island Lanes, had been around for decades when COVID hit in spring 2020. With business cratering, then-owner Carla Reusch made the hard decision to close the business.
Thankfully, Sonya Gullacher and her family stepped in to keep the more than 50-year-old local institution open and the bowlers happy.
In an interview with the West Coast Now, Gullacher said, “When Carla said that she wanted to sell and slow down, of course, that was a thing that I had to assess and see what I wanted to do. And my husband was very much on board with supporting me in whatever I wanted the future to look like. But also [my son] Devon said, “Mom, I grew up there. We need to keep it – we need to keep it going!”
Gullacher has long had a close relationship with the bowling alley. “I have been friends with the previous owner since I was a teenager. Basically. I grew up with her husband in Coal Harbor.” Gullacher continued: “I put Devon in Kids Bowl Youth Bowling, and I volunteered to coach, and it just ballooned from there and I suddenly wound up working here.”
Bowling remains a popular activity in the community, because it’s accessible and welcomes people of all ages and skills. “It’s a sport that everyone can do for all ages, so the entire family can go bowling and have a good time together,” she said.
With a new name and a new coat of paint, Gullacher and her family are excited to welcome back Port Hardy locals onto their lanes. “I’ll be bringing back birthday parties and corporate events and perhaps in-house tournaments and challenges.” They also are bringing back the popular Cosmic Bowling for the night owls.
The community has been excitedly vocal about their support for the bowling alley’s revival. One commenter on Facebook, KM Strussi, wrote: “Huge shout out to the new owners of Hardy Bay Lanes!!! Their hard work and dedication to bring the Bowling Alley back, is admirable!! It’s going to be so exciting to see a locally owned business bring such a great atmosphere to the people of NI!!”
“It’s a small community,” said Gullacher. “We are a small area. And our clientele is – we’re all family and friends, really. And you miss seeing them come through and laugh and have a good time. So our regulars are totally what we’re in it for. We miss them, we want them back.”