Brainerd bowling alley latest in national trend to convert to family entertainment center

Sparetime Family Fun Center brings bowling, laser tag and arcade to Brainerd

The lanes are lit at Spare Time Entertainment Friday, October 7, 2016.

Spare Time Chattanooga

5518 Brainerd Road(423) 899-2695Hours:Monday-Thursday: 9 a.m. - midnightFriday-Saturday: 9 a.m. - 2 a.m.Sunday: 10 a.m. -


That's what Jo Ann Cole, of Ringgold, Ga., had to say Friday afternoon as she and husband Phil Cole stepped for the first time into the new Spare Time Chattanooga, a combination bowling alley, arcade, laser tag arena, full-service restaurant and bar at 5518 Brainerd Road that opened Monday inside what used to be Holiday Bowl.

Vermont-based Spare Time Entertainment, which has 16 bowling centers around the country including one in Hixson, reopened the former Holiday Bowl in Brainerd on Monday following a $5 million renovation.

Spare Time Chattanooga is part of a national trend to convert traditional bowling alleys into what the industry calls family entertainment centers with such extras as full-service restaurants, laser tag, game arcades, birthday parties and karaoke.

An explosion of light and sound greets those who walk through Spare Time Chattanooga's front doors - not just bowling balls and pins crashing. A cluster of huge multicolored globe lights "dance" up and down from the ceiling as music pumps and bubbling water swirls through two glowing "bubble walls" that flank the entrance to the restaurant and bar.

Moscow mules and other specialty cocktails, pizzas baked on Italian stone and mahi mahi fillets are some of the menu items bowlers can order and eat laneside.

The lanes' computer tablet scoring system lets bowlers keep traditional score. Or they can take their photo and add it to cartoon animations displayed above the lane. Or they can log into their Facebook account to show their score frame-by-frame.

"Every time you throw the ball, it posts to your Facebook," said Andrew Bolton, assistant entertainment manager.

The renovation of the Brainerd bowling alley reduced the number of bowling lanes from 40 to 25 to make way for a 90-game arcade and a laser tag arena lit by black light.

The remaining bowling lanes - which are left over from Holiday Bowl - are split up into a 14-lane area on one side of the restaurant that mainly will be used for informal open bowling, another six-lane area to the right of the restaurant where league bowlers can practice, and a five-lane VIP bowling area that can be rented for special events.

Spare Time Chattanooga expects to make about a third of its revenue from bowling, Bolton said, another third from arcade games and laser tag and another third from the restaurant and bar.

Harley Williams was one of the Friday afternoon league bowlers at Spare Time Chattanooga.

"I love it. I love the design. I love what it does for the community," Williams said of the renovated bowling alley.

"It enhances my property values," said Williams, the owner of the Heavenly Flavored Wings restaurant nearby. "I'm right up the road."

Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at or or or 423-757-6651.