Beverly Lanes. A 61-Year History of a Business, Sport and its Community.
Frequently someone will walk into Beverly Lanes for the first time and exclaim, “Wow, I didn’t even know this was here.”
Others walk into Beverly Lanes for the 1000th time intending to have a good time like they usually do, punishing bowling pins while enjoying a couple hours with league mates they may have competed against and socialized amongst for decades.
It’s a place for families spanning the entire range of generations, from great grandparents in senior leagues to small children gathering for bumper bowling birthday parties. You’ll see friends and co-workers gathering for a recreational activity next to highly motivated bowler/athletes seeking to improve their considerable skills and achieve higher accord. Beverly Lanes has always existed with a primary purpose of selling bowling because its owners and staff believe bowling is a very worthwhile activity to sell.
When the bowling center had its grand opening on August 6, 1955, Arlington Heights was in the midst of a post WWII suburban growth spurt that was transforming the once small rural town into one of Chicago’s largest suburbs. The population was 15,000 at the time, growing by leaps and bounds.
In existence was a 6-lane center on Vail Street downtown called Arlington Lanes. The proprietors of the new center-- brothers Ed and Al Sander along with Wally Schwaller-- decided to name their new 16-lane facility Beverly Lanes since, after all, it was located at 8 S. Beverly Lane.
The new center featured automatic AMF pinspotters and underground ball returns. In the mid-1950s such technology was truly state of the art. No pinboys were needed. Bowling was entering a new era of mechanization and Beverly Lanes was right in the forefront.
What were things like at Beverly at the time? In a word: bustling. Good thing, too, because the upkeep on those pinsetters seemed to require as much manpower and replacement of costly parts as the NASA space program. If there hadn't been a steady stream of customers day and night plucking down 30 cents for each game bowled, keeping the new center ticking would have been impossible.
Because the demand for lanes remained high, the owners added 8 lanes to the facility in 1961. In case you're wondering, 1-16 are the originals, 17-24 represent phase II. A couple years later Beverly Lanes entered a new management era when Les Zikes, one of the Chicago areas top bowlers, was brought on board as general manager. In the meantime Zikes was setting an American Bowling Congress tournament record that still stands by winning national titles for three straight years (1962 Team, 1963 Team and 1964 All-Events), along with capturing the World’s Amateur Championship at the FIQ World competition in Mexico City in 1963.
Zikes went on to join the Professional Bowlers Association in 1968 and captured his first tour title the following year at the Waukegan Open. Throughout the 1970s Zikes maintained a fairly regular tournament schedule while continuing to oversee operations at Beverly. It was quite a task since the center enjoyed one of the highest games per lane ratio of any center in the Midwest.
Eventually, proprietorship at the center shifted in 1979 as Ed Sander sold ownership title to Les and Mary Cay Zikes. The Zikes’ took steps to insure people would continue to have an opportunity to bowl at Beverly for decades to come. In 1981 the original pinsetting machines were replaced with new AMF 82/70 models. Then, after several years of investigating new synthetic surfaces coming onto the market, Beverly Lanes installed AMF’s HPL-9000 system in 1989. The 3/8th” thick laminated lane panels were securely screwed into the original maple and pine lane beds.
Next in 1996, Beverly Lanes made the electronic leap by installing AMF’s Excel 500 automatic scoring system. No more frame-by-frame, paper and pencil scoring necessary. The program’s software has been updated to better handle league statistical services and most leagues can now keep up with their league standings and averages simply by accessing league stats at Beverlylanes.com.
Also, in keeping with the increasing popularity of bumper bowling for small children, bumper rails were periodically added until every lane offered the opportunity to raise the bumper rails in a matter of seconds.
The summer of 2003 bought a significant change to the look of the center as the venerable bench seating, a popular staple of bowling centers in the past, was replaced with an updated set-up of chairs, countertops and tables, providing a pleasant streamlined and roomier feel to the area behind the bowling apporaches. Adding to the makeover, sure to catch every bowler's eye, was a change in the backdrop just above the pins.
While Beverly Lanes has refurbished all its capital equipment with AMF products, the center remains completely independent. It is NOT among the nearly 600 bowling centers nationwide (including many in Chicago area) that are operated as part of the corporate chains owned by Brunswick or AMF.
Instead, Beverly Lanes epitomizes a family operation that is run by and for bowlers. Les Zikes remains an active bowler, competing in the center’s two scratch leagues and becoming the 13th bowler in USBC history to exceed 100,000 pins at the USBC national tournament in Reno, Nev., in 2009. His resume also includes election to the USBC (then ABC) Hall of Fame in 1983 and being named among top 100 bowlers in of the 20th century by Bowlers Journal Magazine.
Son Lyle Zikes is an active PBA regional bowler; daughter Lauren Jareczek was the Mid-Suburban League’s high average bowler during her high school days; and granddaughters Roxanne Brod and Cathy Kipp have each recorded sanctioned 300 games. Son-in-law Mark Jareczek scored his first sanctioned perfect game a few years ago as well.
Even Mary Cay, just occasional bowler throughout most of her life, joined a league and after shooting her very first 200 game she proclaimed, “I can now join the family.” When the industry's governing body began testing a new Sport Bowling division that requires challenging, tournament-like conditions for specific leagues, Beverly Lanes came to the forefront. It was one of 50 centers nationwide to conduct a Sport Bowling test league in 2000-01 and has subsequently built the league to a 16 team staple attracting many of the best bowlers in the Chicago area. Additionally, the center has hosted a PBA Senior tournament each summer since 2001.
Well beyond being familiar to the pros, Beverly Lanes has been a second home to many from the surrounding community for more than half a century. Some “old-timers” who first ventured into the center during the Eisenhower administration are still bowling. They are on the lanes with patrons who can’t fathom bowling without automatic scoring. There aren’t many locations where such a blend between the community, a sport and a business are so favorably entrenched. Proudly, Beverly Lanes is such a place.