Mission Bowling Club’s finally getting that bowling alley smell

After many months of waiting for the right moment, Allan and I finally got to tour supposedly the first bowling alley to open in SF in decades, Mission Bowling Club. We all know how much Allan likes ping pong, well my indoor drinking-with-balls sport has always been bowling.

MBC - Lanes in Progress
Lane view from the mezzanine. [photo by me]

Back in high school we used to take the 22 to Japantown Bowl, with two floors of lanes and some of the worst food items in town. It was awesome. But it closed down around 11 years ago, and nothing has taken its place. Though I wait patiently.

MBC - Future Bar
Future bar view from the mezzanine. [photo by me]

Mission Bowling Club isn’t trying to be what Japantown was. With 6 lanes, a sit-down restaurant headed by neighborhood celebrity chef Anthony Myint and a full bar, they’re going after something different. Which is not to say that they want to restrict the crowd they attract. During our tour, co-owner Sommer Peterson was clear to stress that they wanted to be able to welcome neighborhood families as well as the 21-35 year old Mission nighttime scene, which they’ll have no trouble attracting.

MBC - View from the back
[photo by me]

MBC - Future Restaurant Seating
Future restaurant seating. [photo by me]

On the weekends they’ll be open for all ages, with weeknights reserved for the 21 and over crowd. Of the six lanes, three will be open for walk ins, the other three available for reserving by phone or website. You will pay by the hour, rather than game, to keep people from just hanging out in a lane all night. In addition to brand new lanes (brought in on two semi trucks in the middle of the night) they have all new bowling balls and shoes. The bar top will be made of a reclaimed lane from newly refurbished Morgan Hill Bowl. Sommer, who created the Divisadero Art Walk, will also be curating art for a large side wall, as well as rotating art installations for the huge wall above the lanes.

[photo by Allan]

Now, I know how excited I sound. Because I am. Because bowling is awesome. Yeah, it’s gonna be crowded, and cost more money then I wish it did, because I wish it was free, or as cheap as an old ass bowling alley. But there aren’t any around here, so we get a brand new one. So sure, there are plenty of things to gripe about (already well documented on this site) from the vocal minority, but I think we mostly want and deserve a bowling alley. One that isn’t a car. One where we can eat Mission Burgers in actual chairs. One that actually sounds welcoming. And I get the impression that these proprietors are sincere about really opening this up to the whole neighborhood. They know they’re going to make mistakes, so they’re open to reasonable feedback. As Sommer said, they’re opening three new businesses all at once, “I’m happy, proud and scared.” So I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt and I’m excited to see what happens.

36 Responses to “Mission Bowling Club’s finally getting that bowling alley smell”

  1. J-Lub says:

    Looks great! Adequate bike parking will be key in that location.

  2. August says:

    Agreed on the bike parking. Some type of lightly secured bike parking would be great.

  3. Thefrederale says:

    Allan got a camera!

  4. I agree with all of that, but, with only 6 lanes, I know deep down that I’m never going to be able to get in there.

    • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable says:

      Same, alas.

    • EH says:

      Oh, it’s yupped out enough that I’m sure they’ll do reservations. It’s not like Berlin Ping Pong, whitey ain’t gonna stand around and drink appletinis all night just to throw a rock down some boards for an hour.

  5. Pablo says:

    When I was very little my dad used to take me to Rock’n'Bowl on Haight street including for those crazy night time games. When I was 12 I was in a league at Serra Bowl. In high school I too used to hang out at Japantown Bowl all the time, even joining a once a week hip kids bowling club of kids from Urban High once I graduated to try to ingratiate myself with a girl I was swooning over. We will have to grab a game at this place next time I’m back, Ariel!

  6. Sweet T says:

    What’s the timeline for this project? Can we start making reservations now?

  7. MrEricSir says:

    Is the Japantown Bowl still sitting there, or did they rip it out?

  8. Petey says:

    Now this is going to be transformative! Hopefully they negotiated better terms than the Summit owners.

  9. Steve says:

    Lucky Strike lanes at 3rd and Townsend will technically be the first new bowling alley, since they should be open by mid February, but I’m just being nitpicky. Looks like they are going after two different takes on similar ideas, which is good for all.

  10. Tom Verniere says:

    It would be awesome if they could have a small stage for live acts too, but the space might not be big enough to accommodate that.

  11. Ariel Dovas says:

    - There will be bike parking in front.

    - Pablo – we’ll definitely go there, and we won’t have to sneak booze in!

    - I believe they’re trying to be open within the next month?

    - Japantown was taken down, as far as I know, to be replaced by a dot-com that never materialized.

    - It sounds like they won’t be doing live acts there, for a while anyway.

    • Barbara Graber says:

      I’m so excited to have a bowling ally in the hood!
      Bowling IS awesome and so much fun!
      Ariel and Pablo – you guys are busted!

  12. Matt says:

    I can tell you from personal experience these folks are the real deal, they want to be part of the community and are sincerely open about making this the best for everyone. I’m psyched to have it open.

  13. Generik says:

    I still miss Japantown Bowl terribly, not least because I could walk there and back, so didn’t have to worry about getting my drink on. I hope this place makes it, but I am worried about it being too small for the demand. Perhaps with the other one at 3rd and Townsend (and the one at the Presidio is still open, yes?), there will be enough venues that it won’t be completely insane. Maybe.

    In any event, I’m also looking forward to it.

  14. Jeff says:

    Don’t forget that Yerba Buena bowling alley is still around.

    Can’t wait for this to open though.

  15. Miki says:

    So, so, so happy to hear they’re going to be family friendly!

  16. Judge Crater says:

    Yeah but will it have lumpia like Serra Bowl?

  17. Lauren says:

    Or better yet, fried twinkles like they used to have in Pacifica! Where is this going to be located? Actually in Mission St?

  18. ahsah says:

    If this is the place they’re building next door to dickerman prints then sorry. There is absolutely no bike parking around there save for a single lockup spot across the street.

    Hopefully they build something for bikes before it opens up.

  19. krillin says:


  20. StowawaySG says:

    Now all we need is batting cages in the city.