The bowling alley, now owned by AMF Bowling Centers, Inc., was originally the work of A & L Bowling Centers of Chicago. Joseph J. Abbell and Leonard Lamensdorf, for whom A & L was named, were local real estate investors and developers of shopping centers as well as bowling alleys. This was their sixth venture into the bowling business in the Chicago area.
The building was begun in January of 1961 with the promise of “a cocktail lounge, possibly a piano bar, restaurant, snack bar, pro-shop and nursery for toddlers.” (Daily Herald, 2/2/1961) They expected to employ a babysitter for the nursery in the afternoon and evenings at no charge to the customers. Two meeting rooms were also available to leagues and their organizations who were affiliated with Hoffman Lanes. The restaurant and snack bar would be under the supervision of brothers, Kanellas “Nello” and George Cafcules.
It was also expected that employees would come from the Hoffman Estates area. There would be positions available for “machine maintenance men, concourse and lounge waitresses and the control counter.” (Daily Herald, 2/2/1961)
The interesting thing is that A & L hired Hoffman Lanes neighbor, B & K Realtor Co. at Roselle and Higgins, to begin registering leagues and individuals. Obviously, there were only so many local establishments in town who could offer such a service!
Free bowling instruction would be offered every morning to adults. The 8-14 year old crowd would be instructed on the first four Saturdays the lanes were open. It was also stipulated that children under 16 would be asked to leave the bowling alley by 9:00 every weeknight unless accompanied by their parents. This would change to midnight on Saturday night, per Hoffman Estates curfew hours.
By March the building was on its way with F. & S. Construction in charge. (F & S built most of early Hoffman Estates so they would seem to be a logical choice as a contractor.) Many bowling leagues from Hoffman Estates and nearby communities had already signed up for the lanes. It was expected to house 48 lanes and now included a billiard room. Needless to say, there was a demand for entertainment.
In June, A & L hired Leslie Zikes, Sr. to be general manager of the bowling alley. He was expected to “supervise all phases of construction, internal operations and promotion of the 32,000 sq. ft. ultra-modern building.” (Daily Herald, June 1, 1961) Zikes was also expected to hire 20-25 employees very shortly.
It was at this time Zikes announced that the Lanes would feature 24 Brunswick “Gold Crown” Lanes, including automatic pinsetters (Brunswick called them “the pinsetters with the magic brain”), pinfinders and telescores. The telescore tables were special pedestal tables made by Brunswick that had a built in overhead projector designed to be used for scoring. It would be interesting if someone would comment on whether this bowling alley used the projection part for scoring or used a paper score sheet.
When the plans were discussed early on, you may have noticed there was to be 48 lanes. By June, they were down to 24 lanes and by August, when they opened, they were up to 32 alleys. Plus, it was air-conditioned! This was a real bonus in the early 1960s when central air was not a part of the early homes of Hoffman Estates and Schaumburg.
According to former local resident Jay Campbell, four other bowling alleys were built around 1961 with the same type of building and outdoor sign, as well as 32 or 36 lanes. They were: Meadowdale Lanes in Carpentersville, now called Liberty Lanes; Park Lanes in Loves Park; Town and Country Lanes in Springfield, now called Spillway Lanes.
To this day, Hoffman Lanes has been a successful entertainment venue in Schaumburg Township. They gained even more notoriety in May 1994 when they began holding the Petersen Classic tournament each year on 16 of their 32 lanes. The Petersen is privately-sponsored, open to any male or female bowler and runs over a period of months beginning in May and ending in August. The Hoffman Lanes sign, in fact, bears the moniker of ”Home of the Petersen Classic.”
Hoffman Lanes is one of only three existing bowling alleys in Schaumburg Township and is by far and away the longest lasting. You can visit them at 80 W. Higgins Road or online here. Bowl a game or two and have a quick bite to eat. It was fun in 1961 and still is over 50 years later!
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library