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Little Falls Center under new Ownership

Al Vaverek is new co-owner of the LF Bowling Center

Al Vaverek, left, a long-time employee of the Little Falls Bowling Center, joins Mary Herold, right, as her partner in the business.

Terry Lehrke
Staff Writer

Al Vaverek is not a new face at the Little Falls Bowling Center (LFBC), and his many duties will not change much. However, his title as of Jan. 30, is now "co-owner."

He and co-owner Mary Herold have worked together over the years, first when Vaverek was a part-time employee and for the past eight when he was a full-time right-hand man.

Herold has been involved at the Little Falls Bowling Center for 30 years, the past 11-1/2 as a co-owner.

"I can't imagine doing anything else," said Vaverek. "I just love it. When the bowling season is here, it's pretty much my life. Two weeks after the season is over, I can't wait for it to start again," he said.

Bowling season, the season men's, women's and junior leagues are in session, runs for 28 weeks, from the week after Labor Day until the first part of April, said Vaverek. "You form a bond with the league bowlers. They're a great group of people," he said.

Vaverek said he does "pretty much everything," around the center, from working on the machines, drilling bowling balls and preparing the lanes for bowlers, to cooking and bartending. "There's nothing I don't know how to take care of around here," he said.

"I'm just a part of the fixtures," joked Herold, who takes care of the behind the scenes work such as the bookkeeping and ordering supplies. She also works behind the counter serving bowlers. "Al's even the janitor-he does everything," she said.

The two not only run the bowling center, but are bowlers themselves. Not great bowlers, they admit, with Vaverek's 190 average and Herold's 140. And, their families are involved in bowling as well. "For 25 years our family gets together to bowl at Christmas. After dinner and opening gifts, bowling has become a part of our Christmas," she said. Herold and her husband Kurt also bowl in Pierz Wednesday nights, as doVaverek and his wife, Brenda.

Brenda also helps out at the center, keeping track of league information and with organizing the center's large "No-Tap" tournament. During the no tap tournament, which runs weekends from Feb. 2 through mid-May, the center will host bowlers from all over, said Herold. The tournament will bring about 4,000 bowlers from all over the Midwest-Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, North and South Dakota, and even from South Carolina, said Herold, and pays out over $72,000 in cash prizes.

The LFBC provides birthday party specials, hosts Christmas bowling parties, and more for those wishing to enjoy activities with their families. "This is a family-oriented business," said Herold. And, she added, young bowlers are especially fun to have in the center. "The kids are great. They are our future. We love watching them, and try to keep an eye on them when they're here," she said. In addition to bowling, the center has a game room with video games, a pool table, pinball machines and an air hockey table for young people looking for something to do.

People also come into the center to enjoy the short-order food offered, such as burgers, fries, shrimp, chicken strips, pizza and "really good" homemade garlic bread, said Vaverek.

The LFBC is open Sundays, from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. for open bowling; Mondays from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. for league bowling; Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. for open bowling; Thursdays, from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 or 11 p.m., with open bowling until 7 p.m.; Fridays, from 5 p.m. until midnight for open bowling and Saturdays, from 8:30 a.m. to midnight.

Herold invites everyone to come in and "Congratulate Al on his new venture," she said.

Brenda Vaverek
Tournament Director