ENID, Okla. — A huge, bright arcade and flashing, twisting bumper cars are two of the newest additions to Oakwood Bowl’s family fun center.
The historic bowling alley renovated several spaces, transforming the building into an even bigger attraction.
Owners Jim and Sandy Tate said Sandy had wanted the arcade for 20 years since the former club space wasn’t consistently being used. Jack Tate, the late owner, and father of Jim, had always taught them to reinvest money into their business.
“It’s doing great already,” Jim said. “It has even attracted more people into come bowling.”
Over the span of four months at Oakwood Bowl, with the help of a few employees, the Tates facilitated the removal of four walls, bars and stage. The once gray, black and purple area was transformed as ceilings and walls were covered in custom paint patterns, with Sandy doing 90% of the work over the span of nine weeks.
The former club is now an 8,000-square-foot arcade, named Tate’s Fun Zone, after late owner Jack Tate. There are dozens of games for people of all ages lining the walls and spitting out tickets for prizes.
Custom booths and the leftover part of the bar were turned into a candy and soda fountain, complete with the classic Elvis jukebox.
The old arcade area became a bumper car activity area, with classic bumper cars and spinning, flipping bumper cars. Minors must have a waiver signed by an adult to ride.
“Whenever we started doing this project and I said, ‘Let’s get rid of the bar and move the arcade,’ all of us put our heads together about what to place in the old arcade spot,” Sandy said. “When we say these cars, we all said that those are what we need.”
When the bumper cars were delivered earlier this month, they had to take the whole entrance out just to bring the cars in. Sandy rode the first one in, while Jim rode in upside down.
“These are unlike any bumper cars you’ve ever seen,” Jim said. “It’s called flip zone. There is a harness so you can flip all the way upside down, rotate in a circle and spin the car around at the same time.”
When the bumper car area is full, music and lights from the cars mix with giggles and shouting from competitive patrons, the Tates said.
“Jim and I have been working here for 28 years for his dad,” Sandy said. “Jack passed away four years ago. He instilled in us to put money back into your business. So, that’s what we have tried to do, will continue to do and always have done. We did it to give Enid kids somewhere to go.
“We have had nothing but high praise from everybody. People say they wished we had done it sooner.”
Jim chimed in that a lot of bowling alleys are adding family fun centers, which they have now.
The 40-lane bowling alley, built in 1976, has more than 250 weekly league bowlers.
Article by: Kat Jeanne – Enid News & Eagle 12.30.21
Photos by: Billy Hefton