When Hoffman Lanes opened on the northwest corner of Higgins and Roselle Roads in 1961, a whole new avenue of entertainment rolled into Schaumburg Township with the bowling balls.Hoffman Lanes

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.Hoffman Lanes

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.

In an ad from a 1963 issue of The Record, it informs readers of the P&G Restaurant being open in Hoffman Lanes.  They served breakfast, lunch and snacks seven days a week.

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.

Hoffman LanesTo 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!

It was reported in the Daily Herald on July 3, 2015 that Hoffman Lanes had closed.  Our regrets.

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library


  1. Dave N Says:

    I am trying to jar my memory and I could be wrong, but I think use of the overhead depended on the situation. My parents and one brother where in leagues there in the mid to late 70’s. I also used to bowl with my Dad and friends there as a kid in the late 70’s to early 80’s. If memory serves me, leagues used the overhead projector scoring system and open bowling used paper score sheets. I do remember going with my Dad a lot when I was little and frequently asking why we couldn’t use the overhead. We would go just as leagues were ending and open bowling starting on Saturday and I recall we had to use paper score sheets and grab a pencil from the box at the counter but the leagues were using the overheads. I always hoped we could use the overheads 🙂 Again I could be wrong but I think that is how it was arranged at that time.

    • jrozek Says:

      Thank you, Dave, for responding to my question about the overhead projectors. It’s interesting that there was a distinction between the types of scoring that was used by league bowling versus open bowling. Why do you think they would be reluctant to use it all the time?

      Jane Rozek
      Local History Librarian

  2. Dave N Says:

    That’s a very good question. The most plausible reason that would make the most sense, IMO… could be cost of maintaining them. The more they are used the more bulbs they would go through plus the clear plastic score sheets, and grease crayons must of cost them more to purchase than pads of paper score sheet and pencils. I do know they would come by and ask kids not to play with the lights (me included when I was a kid) if you messed with them. We used to turn them on and make shadow puppets (some kids more vulger shadow puppets, sadly) that would project up on the screen. So I also thought the reason was to limit damage to them but thinking cost was the biggest factor.

    • Bowler Says:

      Cost was the factor. Not only the lamp but the electricity to run them. I grew up next to a bowling alley and the owner was always retrofitting to keep up with the times. It was a cool retrofit when he put the overhead projectors in. Lots of ooooing and ahhhing over those. So with what those continual retrofits and maintenance over the years, he watched operational costs to the penny. It, like most others have gone from a place for the blue collar working guys to go bowl, drink and smoke for an evening to ‘family’ oriented fun centers. A move that had to be made for the business to survive.

      • jrozek Says:

        Thank you for that additional confirmation Bowler. Two pieces of clarification always help!

        Jane Rozek
        Local History Librarian
        Schaumburg Township District Library

  3. David J Pye Says:

    I worked there in the summer of 86. It’s true that the leagues would be the only ones to use the overhead scorers. I really don’t know if it had to do with costs involved (the halogen bulbs themselves might have been expensive), but it did have to do with league-style play. Everyone who was bowling on that particular pair was suppossed to be able to see what the scores were, and it was rather silly for people to try and huddle over the score table to see them. The overheads were actually kinda new back then, as some other places still had scoring tables with just a light over the table. It was quite a job back in those days to keeps everyone with sharp pencils and cut sheets during league time! Also, they might have had Brunswick machines when they opened, but by the time I worked there, they had AMF machines.

  4. Kim Says:

    My mom was in a ladies league with her best friend at Hoffman Lanes in 1968-69. While they bowled we girls took ballet lessons at Kassel’s Studio of Dance located inside Hoffman Lanes. Our dance recital was performed at Conant High School because there was more space there.

  5. Jane Rozek Says:

    Wow! A dance studio in Hoffman Lanes? I certainly had not heard that one before. Very interesting detail Kim. Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: