Beloved Pickwick Bowl and Banquets in Burbank will close its doors for good on Tuesday, Aug. 15.
“For more than six decades, this place has been a second home to us, and all of you have become like family. As we reflect on the countless memories etched within these walls, we can’t help but feel overwhelmed with gratitude. You’ve filled this place with laughter, shared your triumphs and defeats, and created bonds that will last a lifetime,” Darin Mathewson, general manager, wrote on social media.
The bowling alley at 1001 W. Riverside Drive will go dark, as well as its bar and banquet hall, to make way for about 100 townhomes.
Lance Wilder, a designer and illustrator for The Simpsons and a regular at the bowling alley, bought three bowling pins for memorabilia on Friday, Aug. 11. “I came here when I started on The Simpsons back in 1990,” he said. “I just wanted a keepsake for me and my kids, and I grabbed an extra one for Tim Conway Jr. who’s a friend.”
His most cherished memory at Pickwick, he said, was, “Bowling with probably at least 30 members of The Simpsons, hanging out. Tim Burton would stop by, you know, just a lot of great people from 33 years ago.”
Another fan of Pickwick Bowl, Marlene Hill Nicholas, said she had been bowling there “since I was as small as I can remember. My mom bowled here in a league on Tuesday mornings with their friends and I came — to the daycare.”
Later, she and her friends joined a league. The bowling alley closure, she said, “is going to be a big hit to Burbank, not having this anymore. It’s a gathering place. We made a lot of friends here, we’ve had parties here. I’ve had birthday parties for my kids here.”
Every Sunday night, “We all showed up, and it was just a good time, and it was something to look forward to.”
Pickwick Manager James Beightler said the surrounding community, some of it an equestrian area, rallied to support the bowling alley, and is upset that it is going to be closed to make way for townhouses.
“Unfortunately, circumstances kind of played a different role and pushed in a different direction, and it truly is becoming housing,” he said.
On social media, general manager Mathewson said, “You brought life to this alley, making it a hub of joy, camaraderie, and love. … From birthday parties and family gatherings to competitive leagues and spontaneous bowling nights, you made every moment memorable. Our fondest memories will forever include your smiling faces, the sound of pins crashing, and the contagious excitement that filled the air. As we embark on this final chapter, we invite you to join us in these remaining days to celebrate the wonderful journey we’ve shared.”
The bowling alley was built in the 1950s and has been owned and operated by the Stavert family since 1961.
The news about its end comes after a months-long battle involving an Orange County developer and the Burbank City Council over the proposal to turn the bowling alley property into a townhome development, which was approved by the city of Burbank in 2022.
The development that will replace the bowling alley will not impact the nearby ice rink at Pickwick Gardens, which was acquired by the Los Angeles Kings in 2018.
On the Pickwick Bowl and Banquets website this week, in bright red letters and with exclamation points, the owners assured the public, “This does not affect the ice arena! The ice arena is open and will be for years to come! Please stop by and say hi!”
What did Lance Wilder plan to do with the three pins he was taking home?
“Probably I’ll display two of them somewhere — maybe in the living room or something, or the studio outback,” he said. “And maybe hand one off to Tim (Burton) if he doesn’t get a chance to get over here” before Pickwick Bowl closes on Tuesday.
— Photographer Hans Gutknecht contributed to this report.