Monday, September 24, 2012

Bowl-O-Rama: La Habra 300 Bowl

I had this blog backlogged and thought I would bring it to you while I finish editing all of our pictures from Barcelona.  I have left you good people without decent reading material for long enough and I can't countenance one more day without a post...

Have you noticed that contemporary buildings have become so utilitarian by nature of their design that the only discernible difference between a shopping center, a suburban home, and a jail in Communist Russia is the generally good humor of the Russian inmates.  This was an abstract concept for me until they started building a new strip shopping center near my house.  As each new building went up, it was impossible to guess what would go inside the stucco, taupe-colored boxes.  Frankly, it could be anything - Taco Bell, auto parts store, bank, dentist office, shoe store, market.  I guess the idea is to make it as generic as possible so that when businesses cycle through, the only real change that would need to be made is switching out the outsized, plastic sign.

Don't get me wrong, I love the convenience of Target.  I love the abundance of food choices and the idea that with new construction comes new jobs and new opportunities for businesses to thrive.  But would it kill architects/contractors to give these buildings a little personality?   More than just boring, these buildings fail to serve as the landmarks that I so desperately need when driving or giving directions.  I live near and work in a certain community that is famous for being "beige" in every aspect.  I get lost there all the time because not only do the streets meander (I'm a firm believer in the grid), but when someone says turn left at the tan building, you could be driving in circles for hours without ever reaching your destination.  I say all this not to bemoan the foibles of modern society, but only express my deep appreciation for the masterminds that created the wonderful 20th Century bowling alleys that are still plentiful and ready to be enjoyed not just for their leisure activities, but for the distinct figure they cut in the skyline.  One such bowling alley is La Habra 300 Bowl in La Habra, CA.

La Habra 300 Bowl is so old-school that they don't even have a website (editor's note: as of December 2012, La Habra 300 Bowl has a website), so you'll just have to take my word as gospel on the information I provide you.  Situated just a few miles east of Friendly Hills Bowl (our last featured bowling alley), LH300 is just as famous for its unusual coffee shop as it is for its gleaming lanes.  Consider this, the most popular items on the menu are, if you can handle this, Chinese food!!!  Chinese food, albeit of the American variety, seems like an unlikely style of cuisine to be proffered in the coffee shop of a bowling alley, but it's true and every regular in the place told us that we had to come back for some Egg Foo Yung.  I think it's a fiendish plan by the management; everybody knows that when you eat Chinese food and then bowl, you'll just be hungry for another frame of bowling an hour later.

I think we had just eaten, but there's something about a
bowling alley coffee shop that makes Mary HUNGRY!!!

The nice folks featured in the center of this photo gave us a strange look
 when we walked in and promptly started snapping photos.  However,
when they realized we were bowling alley enthusiasts, they practically
 invited us to share a late breakfast with them.  The gentleman assured us that
 it was neither a special occasion nor was he being favored as a regular when our
eyes got as big as saucers looking at the humongous, 27-egg (or thereabouts)
 omelette that was set before him on the squeaky-clean formica table.  

My favorite thing in the world is authentic, vintage wallpaper from the 50's...
at least there weren't life-size cut outs of James Dean and Marilyn Monroe

My usual coffee shop favorites are still in place -
barstools, terrazzo, original fixtures and display cabinets, and a
pretty stellar color story of black, gray, and pinky salmon

Maybe not the best example, but don't you love the light-box,
"cocktails" signs with the block letters?

The 13th Frame is the bowling alley's bar/lounge and has
an entrance from the inside and outside.

Button-tufted oxblood leather, brass nailhead trim, beer pennants, stained-glass
 lanterns - it's such a totally different world than the coffee shop, but I'm so glad
these two worlds exist under one extremely-sloped roof!

The private party room is adjacent to the bar and reminds a little bit of
The Regal Beagle from Three's Company.

The hand-painted figure seemed to indicate that this alley was full of real music enthusiasts.
  The bar actually would be a great place for shows.  Hmmm...maybe I need to
 add booker/promoter to my resume and include La Habra 300 Bowl as a venue!  

You read that right, that's a pin-full of "Ball Polish."

I think my snickering at the ball polish combined with the consistent flash of my camera finally brought about the inevitable - a confrontation by the management.  We're always so distracted by our excitement over neat stuff (and taking pictures of said stuff) that it never occurred to me that anyone would question my motives.  Nevertheless, after a brief interrogation by the manager, where I told her that my intentions with her bowling alley were quite chaste, we were back in action.  Although, given her grimace, I'm sure I left her unconvinced that we weren't just weirdos with a camera.  Heck, I haven't even convinced myself of that.

It's become a bit of a bad habit, but I keep forgetting to remind you that these bowling alleys do indeed offer bowling services.

Just a question, before I let you go.  Is "300" a perfect game in bowling?  That is my guess as to the significance of the name, but maybe someone out there can clarify this small detail for me.  Oh, and one more question; who determined that a strike in baseball is a bad thing but a strike in bowling is the best?  Until I find out the answers to these, life's greatest mysteries, I wish you turkeys all the turkeys I can spare.

Hardy har har!!!

La Habra 300 Bowl
370 E Whittier Blvd
La Habra, CA


Mr. Tiny


  1. I like anything ending in o-rama!

    1. I'll take that as cue to start ending all my blog titles in O-Rama!!!

  2. I miss all the old bowling alleys here. All of them have been "upgraded" and lost their charm.

    Have you ventured down to the Turf Supper Club in San Diego? I think you would love it. The wallpaper is from the 30s I believe. It's horses standing upright, dressed in business suits. Plus, all your meats come raw and you grill them yourself on an indoor grill in the middle of the bar/restaurant. It's a great place.

    1. I've only dreamed of going to the Turf Club. I have a love/hate feeling for cooking my own food at a restaurant. On the one hand it seems fun; on the other hand, it also seems like I would be doing all the work and smell like a kitchen! It is definitely on our to-do list!

  3. Oh I cannot wait to read about your adventures in Sunny Spain!!! I'm with Trina anything with O-Rama is A-ll right with me!

    1. Thanks Mick! I'm working on the Barcelona blog as we speak!!!

  4. That has to be the best bar and coffee shop ever. I want to have a big drunken party there! The kind with martinis, and pictures of people with the lampshade on their heads. Great stuff.

    1. Given the slightly suspicious demeanor of the management, I'm not sure that they would be willing to allow an awesome party like that. But as we have learned with this blog, it is much better to ask for forgiveness than for permission. Let's go to La Habra 300 and GET CRAZY!!!

  5. Yes, 300 is a perfect score. And they often bowl a "series" of three games. A guy once got three perfect games at La Habra, and there was a sign "Home of the 900 Series" for a while. But the powers-that-be of bowling decided it didn't count.

    1. BOO!!! My goal is to perform a 5 series and get a perfect 247...I'm a terrible bowler.

  6. Love this! I, too, like those old light up signs in older restaurants. A bowling alley with chinese food sounds like perfection to me... Your blog is super fun - great photos - keep it up!

  7. When an old favorite Chinese restaurant in Bellflower was having... ahem... Health Dept. problems... I asked a business owner on Whittier Blvd. for any suggestions. She said, "Right over there at the Bowling Alley!"
    At the time my mom was having a digestive issue, and everything had been tasting much too salty to her. The cooks at the Coffee Shop fretted about our request for "no salt, no seasoning, no nothing" because they thought the food would be too bland. Actually it turned out fine (and not too long after that, my mom's taste problem was cleared up.)
    But the next time we went in, she didn't recognize the people out front to serve us. She asked them, "Where are the Chinese people?!?!"
    Ah well, that worked out okay too...

  8. Thank you for the write up! My name is Andrea and I am the General Manager at La Habra 300 Bowl. We've been trying to come into modern times a bit, while keeping our vintage flair. Our 13th Frame Lounge has live bands every Saturday night, and karaoke on Tuesdays and Fridays. We have $1 bowling days on Mondays and we finally have a website! Thanks again for the wonderful and fun review!

    1. Hiya Andrea! I'm surprised and pleased that you found our blog! Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving a comment. We absolutely LOVE La Habra 300 Bowl and it is obviously due in large measure to your dynamic leadership. I'm glad you have gotten a website (the post has been updated)other than that, I wouldn't change a thing! I hope we've encouraged at least a few people to visit your awesome bowling alley. Keep up the great work! Thanks!