Right up our alley: Bowling comes to DeVargas Center
Joey and Hannah Padilla are used to making the trip from Santa Fe to Albuquerque to find some family fun.
When it’s warm, the Santa Fe couple and their two kids, ages 6 and 8, can find plenty to do outdoors in the area. And during the colder months, they do enjoy places like Meow Wolf and the Children’s Museum.
“But you can only do those so many times before the kids are bored,” Hannah Padilla said. That leaves the family often driving to the big city for a wider array of kid-friendly options, like indoor trampoline gyms or bowling alleys.
“We’re missing out in terms of the entertainment variety for children, families and all around, I think,” she said of the City Different.
It was on one of those drives south during the winter of 2016 that the Padillas got thinking about filling the void themselves. Earlier this month, the couple announced plans to build a bowling alley and multi-entertainment spot at the DeVargas Center mall on the north edge of downtown.
The Padillas grew up in northern New Mexico: Joey in Española and Hannah in Eldorado. In 2008, they opened Santa Fe Tails, a local dog day care and training academy. As entrepreneurs, Joey said, the couple had an “itch” to take on something more that could also give back to the community.
Their original plan was an indoor trampoline park. After several months of planning, Hannah said, they hit roadblocks with ceiling height requirements in existing buildings, and they couldn’t find a desirable location for a new facility. Joey had concerns about safety. Eventually, the couple came back around to an early idea of a bowling alley.
Santa Fe hasn’t had one since the 2008 closing of Silva Lanes, which years later was transformed into Meow Wolf’s popular “House of Eternal Return” interactive art installation.
“We always thought somebody else was going to do it and we just got tired of waiting,” Joey said of bringing back bowling. “So we’re going to do it.”
The Alley will take up about 20,000 square feet on DeVargas’ west side closest to Sabino Street. Joey said they hope to bring in at least 150 patrons daily. Construction is expected to start in May and an opening could come in late summer or fall of this year.
In addition to 12 bowling lanes, The Alley will have bocce ball, shuffleboard, darts, pool tables and an arcade. The couple plans to offer food – Joey said the menu is to be determined – and beer, wine and spirits. The liquor license application is set for an April 11 public hearing.
The couple wants the place to be viewed as an “upscale,” yet casual, spot.
There’s an environment setting we’re trying to hold when we say upscale,” Hannah said. “It’s going to be clean. It’s going to be bright.”
They also say they’re striving for a place that will draw a wide audience. Katy Fitzgerald, DeVargas’ senior project manager, described it as as a place for kids and families, as well as adults “enjoying games in the evening with a drink in their hand.”
“Maybe the early walkers of the mall will come in and want to bowl,” Joey said. “We want this to be for everybody.”
As for the location, Joey said he and his wife are excited to join the recent influx of locally owned businesses at DeVargas, especially since the center is also revamping its look.
Fitzgerald said the center has “most definitely” been enjoying a resurgence, which she says The Alley will supplement, along with the help of new stores and ongoing interior updates.
Since late 2015 – and as recently as last week – DeVargas has opened its doors to nine local businesses that were once in the now-closed Sanbusco Market Center. The Railyard’s former retail center is being converted into the new home of the New Mexico School for the Arts.
Eight Sanbusco stores, including op.cit bookstore, Santa Fe Pens and Teca Tu pet supply store, came over within a few months of each other in late 2015 and early 2016. And last week, On Your Feet, a Sanbusco tenant that has retained its Railyard location, opened a new shoe store next to Starbucks in DeVargas.
Managers at several stores, both new and old, cited overall increases in visitors and sales since the Sanbusco refugees moved in.
“Each month, we’re finding more and more traffic, (and) better and better sales,” said Teca Tu manager Mira Lopez. She estimated a 15-20 percent increase in sales over the previous year.
The additional businesses at DeVargas are being supplemented with new lighting and modern furniture, as well as the installation of free wifi, upgrades that Fitzgerald said should be completed by Christmas.
Wade Harrell, owner of The Harrell House Bug Museum and store, said that in 2017 sales increased about 20 to 30 percent, and he said this month has been one of his all-time best. He attributes the better sales partly to growing word of mouth for his unique business, now in its sixth year. But he’s also noticed increased foot traffic since the new stores came in.
“It definitely has more life in the mall these days,” Harrell said. He hopes The Alley continues that momentum.
Teca Tu’s Lopez said, “It’ll be a positive increase in the vein we’ve already been seeing,” said Lopez. “This center is becoming a one-stop shopping (location), and now one-stop entertainment too.”
“With the advent of The Alley, it solidifies the entertainment use you want to see in a center (like DeVargas),” Fitzgerald said.
She said bowling will give DeVargas an entertainment draw in a “different and better” way than the now-closed Regal Cinema, which was considered out of date.
She said there are no similar multiuse entertainment spaces in northern New Mexico. “This will be the first of its kind,” Fitzgerald said.
Other changes at the DeVargas Center
Due to construction on DeVargas Center’s new bowling alley, The Harrell House Bug Museum will move into part of the former Hastings Entertainment store space at DeVargas, as will the Travelers Market store, whose owner, Lesley Anne Martin, described the move as a chance for better visibility from inside the mall.
The DeVargas lease for Longevity! Strength Training and Fitness was officially up in December, according to owner Joe Arellano.
To make way for the new bowling alley, the gym will be moving to the Plaza Entrada shopping center at St. Francis Drive and Zia Road. Arellano said he isn’t happy to leave DeVargas, where the gym, which he purchased in 2016 from prior owners, has been for almost 30 years. He said he had to market the location heavily, and more people were starting to find the fitness center and sign up for membership.
“You’re getting to see a growth pattern in our business and now we have to move, which will impact us negatively,” Arellano said.
Source: Albuquerque Journal