Bowling alley to reopen in Sylva

After a little over a year absence, a local bowling alley is making a comeback.

Formerly known as Thunder Alley Lanes, the bowling alley in Jackson Plaza is under new management and has undergone a transformation and renovation.

The alley will open soon under the name Country Side Lanes. The renovation has been a family endeavor, and the new owners hope to turn the property into a thriving, family-friendly environment.

Heidi Pinder, one of the family members involved in the renovation, said that the new facility will include arcade games, pool tables and a new kitchen in addition to the refinished lanes.

“We want to be able to have a college night, as well as offer stuff for the senior citizens and things for younger kids to do,” Pinder said. “We will also have leagues, we really want something for everyone, from the young to the old.”

Heidi feels that it is important for a community to have a place to go where the environment is both fun and family friendly.

The new alley will differ from the old in several notable ways, but Heidi believes that the most important difference is the lack of the old bar. She says that many former patrons she spoke with remembered rowdy crowds and frequent fights that spilled over from the connected bar. The old bar has been closed off, a measure that Pinder believes will contribute greatly to the overall family-friendly environment.

Included in the renovation of the facility is a new kitchen, which will serve snack items including hamburgers, hot dogs, nachos, chicken fingers and more.

The facility has received new carpeting, paint and refinished bowling lanes as well. Much of the old bowling equipment has been replaced, and customers will enjoy all-new bowling shoes as well as new bowling balls.

“I had to lace up every pair of shoes myself,” Pinder said while laughing.

She believes that the restoration of the pin setting machines has been the most difficult part of the process.  When work began on the alley, it was discovered that many of the machines were missing parts, and some had been cannibalized to keep the other machines working.

Many WCU students are excited by the return of a bowling alley.

 “I’m glad to hear it. The Sylva/Cullowhee area needs more things to do,” senior Nathan Goetz said.

Ashley Pimentel, a WCU sophomore, is eager for the bowling alley to open as well.

“I’ll be glad to have something to do that is actually close to campus,” she said. “Not everyone can drive to Franklin just to bowl a couple games.”

Pinder hopes to have the business open by the first couple weeks of March.

More information on Country Side Lanes can be found at their website,