Fireside Lanes go up for sale in Rifle
RIFLE, Colorado ” Three years after purchasing the Rifle Fireside Lanes, Jack and Ava Bowles have the business up for sale.
The Rifle couple bought the business from former longtime owner and Garfield County Commissioner, Larry McCown in June 2005 and had big plans for the bowling alley.
However, three months later on Labor Day, Sept. 5, 2005, they watched as the business burned and was almost completely destroyed in an arson fire that demolished the Rifle Conoco station on First Street and damaged two other local businesses. The Bowles lost $1.2 million in the fire and were reimbursed 47 percent of that amount from the insurance company.
“We had to sell our house in Silt just to get it back running again,” Bowles said.
The arsonist, Robin Jay Clifton of Collbran, was arrested in April 2006 for the arsons and convicted on multiple counts in November of 2007. He was sentenced to 24 years in prison.
Since then, the Bowles rebuilt the business that included the lanes, a bar and a restaurant, but two years ago decided not to serve alcohol anymore.
“We stopped for a number of reasons, but the main reason is that me and my wife are both Christians,” Jack Bowles said. “Alcohol ruins a person’s body and people shouldn’t be drinking. It’s a drug ” it should be illegal.”
Bowles also pointed out that the bowling alley was located just outside of Rifle, which means people have to drive after drinking and he did not want to promote that.
“Once we cut out the alcohol, a lot of league bowlers left,” he said. “But in my opinion, drinking and smoking habits shouldn’t be allowed. It’s harmful to your health. Go get your alcohol and go home. I don’t want to contribute to it.”
But the decision cost him a lot of business. Many bowlers stopped coming to the bowling alley because they couldn’t drink.
He also contributes the lack of business to hard economic times people are facing these days.
“I think with the financial situation we’re all in, the first thing people cut out is entertainment,” Bowles said.
A year ago, the Bowles laid off their last employee and have since been running the business by themselves.
“Ava has another full-time job and the two of us don’t have the time to run (the bowling alley) right,” Bowles said. “It’s just been the two of us the last year. It’s the only way we could make money.”
The bowling alley has been for sale since March 2008 with a price tag of $1.8 million and Bowles said he’ll look at any reasonable offers. Although he’d like to see the building remain as a bowling alley, new owners could do what they want with it.
Those wanting more information about the Rifle Fireside Lanes should call 625-2231.
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