Vernon Lane reopens after 6 years of closure

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — This was once the nation’s oldest continuously operating bowling alley. Now Vernon Lanes bowling is back from the brink.

What do you want to know

  • Historic Vernon Lanes bowling alley has reopened in Louisville
  • New owners have renovated and remodeled the century-old building
  • Retro track features 8 bowling lanes
  • Vernon Lanes is a front restaurant and will host live music and other events

The historic Louisville business has reopened with new owners after being closed for more than six years. Prior to its closure, it was the oldest continuously operating bowling alley in the United States according to its owners.

“I believe it’s been a bowling alley since 1918,” Tony Edelen told Spectrum News 1. The original building was built before the turn of the century, the penultimate.

Bowling is back in Butchertown (Spectrum News 1/Jonathon Gregg)

Edelen is one of the new owners of Vernon Lane.

The entire site is steeped in history. Edelen showed off the 1960s mechanics that powered bowling. This all needed to be ironed out before the business could reopen.

“All this equipment, everything works very well. It’s been here since 1968, we renovated everything,” Edelen shouts over the winding belts and the constant kerpunk of the bowling pins.

Edelen says he and his partners have been working for over a year to restore and renovate Vernon Lanes. For any attackers who remember the old operation, they removed the drop ceiling showing a curved roof in the shape of a barn. You will instantly remember the rink of your childhood, if you are of this generation.

Stephen Emmons, bar manager at Vernon Lanes (Spectrum News 1/Jonathon Gregg)

The exposed brickwork surrounding the 360-degree bar allows Vernon Lanes to combine a retro bowling alley with an upscale restaurant and that’s exactly what the bar’s owners and new manager are looking for with this venture.

“I’ve been in the industry for about 20 years so I’ve seen every roller coaster,” said bar manager Stephen Emmons. Emmons says Vernon Lanes is a complete event space.

“Not everyone who comes here is a bowler. They are going to sit down, eat something. Maybe they’re just here to check out a new place and see what’s going on there. I have a stage downstairs and a DJ booth set up,” says Emmons. There is also a scratch kitchen and a chef.

Opening a business is always a challenge and coming out of a pandemic presents even more unknowns for local Vernon Lane owners, but with their hearts in the right place, Edelen says bowling is back in Butchertown and here to stay.

“It’s been a long labor of love.”

Vernon Lanes is at 1575 Story Avenue off I-64 westbound on the ramp. If you’re wondering if it’s the building with the fiberglass hogs out front, yes. It is the place.

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