OLEAN — Bowling alleys got the green light to open Monday, but Good Times of Olean, the city’s only bowling center, is being extra cautious before reopening after closing due to the coronavirus more than four months ago.
Owner West Long said his first concern is the safety of his staff and guests. He is also concerned about meeting all state regulations including the State Liquor Authority and doing everything profitably.
“We’re trying to decide what the governor means,” Long said in an interview Monday. “The rules are so hard to understand.”
Besides the bowling alley, the bar and restaurant were closed after initially offering curbside take-out service. The Good Times kitchen prepares around 500 meals daily for the Allegany County Meals on Wheels organization and meals for children through ACCORD.
Long said using only 50% of the bowling alley’s capacity and closing off every other lane makes league play difficult. Teams that alternate lanes in league play will be required to play in the same lane each game.
“I have no immediate plans to open,” Long told the Olean Times Herald. He’s hoping the bowling league season can open in October, about a month later than usual.
Long said he plans to meet today with bowling leagues to discuss how the bowling league season would look under the current conditions due to the coronavirus.
The lane and ball return machinery that have been idle for more than four months will need some maintenance too. “We’re going to take it slow,” Long said, mindful that bowling lanes in Bradford are already open.
“It’s really about can we operate in a safe manner for staff and guests, comply with the COVID rules and not lose money,” Long said. “That’s almost impossible.”
Good Times’ outdoor miniature golf was lumped in with recreation and didn’t open. “There was a lot of interest from people,” he said. “They missed things they used to do.”
Meanwhile, under the tent in the Delaware Park Center parking lot outside Eade’s Fitness 24/7, Paul Eade is making plans to open next Monday.
State officials indicated on Friday that gyms would be allowed to open Aug. 24.
“I plan to move the equipment back into the gym on Sunday and open indoors on Monday,” Eade told the Olean Times Herald.
On Aug. 2, Eade opened under a 40 by 60-foot tent with many pieces of weight and exercise equipment from the indoor gym. He had operated the indoor gym for 54 days before health officials closed down the operation on July 22.
Members were glad to be able to exercise under the tent, Eade said. The gym had been closed during lockdown for the coronavirus, but reopened indoors May 22. Eade said the rate of local coronavirus remained low and no cases were traced to the gym.
Like other gym owners, Eade moved some of his equipment outside under provisions of outdoor exercise, which was permitted. Eade and 1,500 other state gym owners sued Gov. Andrew Cuomo over the closure which was not addressed in phase 4 of the state’s reopening.
“We operated 54 days without a problem,” Eade said. “The lawsuit was supposed to be in court on Thursday. Without our lawsuit, this (reopening) would not have happened. He knew he was going to get beat in court.”
Eade said he was waiting for specific regulations from the state Department of Health. There are some HVAC filter regulations, cleaning machines after each use, wearing facial masks and temperature checks upon entering. Face masks to get inside and temperature checks are already required.
“In the 54 days we operated, we went through hundreds of rolls of paper towels and disinfectant,” Eade said. “We continue to clean after each use.”
The state says people in a gym need to wear a mask while working out. Eade said he does not agree with that. It is difficult to work out with a mask covering your face, he explained.
“We will work with the Health Department,” Eade said. “We will probably get specific details in the next few days.
“We will do what it takes to make our members safe so they can exercise in a safe and healthy manner,” Eade said. “We’re going to keep doing what we have been doing.”