By Alex Ginsberg
Bowling alleys: smoke-filled, hangar-like rooms where paunchy, middle-aged men wearing custom-made team jackets chomp on greasy hot dogs and swill cheap domestic beer, right?
Tom Shannon, the owner of Strike Long Island, at 1350 Union Turnpike in New Hyde Park, has repackaged bowling as a hip, upscale way to spend an evening.
Strike is not simply a bowling alley. Under an ordinary-looking parking lot just over the city line lie 60,000 square feet of entertainment. Aside from the 20 bowling lanes that sit under five giant television screens — and the 16 more that are available for private affairs — Strike also offers a 700-foot-long Formula 1-style go-kart track, where up to 13 drivers race at speeds of up to 30 miles per hour.
There are three bars, a walk-up sushi counter, a private VIP room with a dance floor, DJ booth and couches and a restaurant serving such haute-cuisine selections as roasted duck spring rolls, pan-seared tuna and tiramisu.
Low lighting throughout lends all areas of the underground complex a nightclub-like feel.
Shannon owns two other bowling alleys, Bowlmor, near Union Square in Manhattan, and Strike Bethesda, in suburban Maryland. The 38-year-old entrepreneur is also in the process of revamping Pressure, formerly a set of indoor tennis courts located directly above Bowlmor, into a billiards hall and bar.
According to the company’s marketing manager, Jeanna Walters, Shannon chose the New Hyde Park location for Strike Long Island because of its proximity to a large number of businesses, including the Triad Office Park directly across Union Turnpike. Accordingly, much of the operation is geared toward office parties and after-work gatherings, with a 21-and-over policy in force most nights of the week after 8 p.m.
“On Saturday nights you can’t even walk through here,” said Rosemarie Mannix, special events manager for Strike Long Island.
One new promotion has dubbed Thursdays “Ladies Night,” and female patrons can enjoy a shirtless male revue and 50 percent discounts on most of the complex’s entertainments. But during the day, the bowling alley is “kid friendly,” with a large number of birthday parties and family outings.
On a recent Thursday afternoon, families and children hurled bowling balls at glow-in-the-dark multicolored pins.
“I just want to tell you that I won!” exclaimed an exultant mother from Roslyn. “I got a 128.”
Ellen Broder, who was bowling with her two sons, a nephew and a friend’s son, admitted that she had thrown one gutter ball.
“It’s cool,” her 12-year-old son, Gregory, said of the bowling alley. “It’s cool because it has race cars and bowling.”
The whole family agreed that Strike was much better than standard bowling alleys.
But Broder complained that a visit to Strike could be tough on the pocketbook.
The bowling alley uses a sliding scale for all its attractions, so prices vary with the time of day or the day of the week. Bowling costs from $3.50 to $6.50 per game, and go-karting from $6.95 to $11.95 a race.
Nevertheless, Broder pointed out one feature in particular that helped her maintain her sanity while looking after four young boys — the giant television screens.
“This keeps them interested,” she said.
Reach reporter Alex Ginsberg by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 157.