Amway Grand aims to bring twist on duckpin bowling to downtown Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids

Pins sit on a bowling lane for duckpin bowling at Shenandoah Bowling Lanes, March 28, 2015, in Mount Jackson, Va. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky))

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story identified the type of bowling offered as duckpin based on all statements in the DDA documents. This story has since been corrected to show this is a different version of duckpin bowling, based on alley length differences.


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Amway Grand Plaza hotel may soon bring a new take on duckpin bowling to downtown Grand Rapids.

Wednesday morning, the Downtown Development Authority approved a liquor license request by Woodrows GR, LLC. DDA Chairperson Rick Winn recused himself from the vote. Winn is president of AHC Hospitality, which manages the Amway Grand Plaza hotel.

The business plans to partner with Muskegon-based Brunswick Bowling to transform the hotel’s former GP Sports Bar into a seven-lane alley for bowling, DDA documents show.

Woodrow’s would also feature a full-service bar with beer, wine and mixed drinks. The business would not serve food, but visitors would be encouraged to have food delivered from nearby restaurants.

In a letter to the DDA, Woodrows GR, LLC manager John Brann said the business brings “a new socially focused entertainment concept to Grand Rapids.”

Duckpin bowling dates back more than a century and peaked in popularity in the 1960s, according to The New York Times and Associated Press. But the sport has been experiencing a recent resurgence as more people seek out alternatives to the traditional bar scene, according to Brann.

Duckpin bowling is similar to traditional bowling, but the bowling balls are smaller and wooden without fingerholes, and the pins are smaller, Brann explained in his message to the DDA. The version Brunswick Bowling has promoted on its website — called Duckpin Social — uses shorter lanes than traditional duckpin bowling.

(Scott Asbell reaches for a duckpin bowling ball during a tournament at Shenandoah Bowling Lanes, March 28, 2015, in Mount Jackson, Va. Courtesy: AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Brann said there will be no shoe or ball fees at Woodrow’s; customers need only rent a bowling lane. Woodrow’s also plans to offer additional “interactive games.”

Amway Grand Plaza hotel has been working for months to develop a new concept for the former GP Sports Bar, which closed early into the COVID-19 pandemic.

(A July 1, 2020 image shows the Amway Grand Plaza hotel in Grand Rapids.)

“It was sports-driven, it was group-driven. It was everything that we couldn’t justify supporting,” Amway Grand Food and Beverage Director Tammy Augustoni told News 8 in November. “It was a big space, but really the things we loved about it didn’t make sense anymore.”

Wolverine Building Group estimates remodeling the 4,000 square-foot space near the corner of Monroe Avenue and Lyon Street NW will cost more than $100,000, according to a memo submitted to the DDA. If all goes as planned, Woodrow’s is expected to open inside Amway Grand Plaza hotel this fall.

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