Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Managing the Lincoln Lanes

By Will Bublitz

Managing the Lincoln Lanes bowling alley is a dream come true for Cole and Kim Britton of Limon.
Cole and Kim took over the management of the local bowling alley on March 1. Lincoln Lanes is currently owned by Vicki Paulson.

“Vicki and her kids asked us to manage Lincoln Lanes," Kim said. "Right now, we're managing Lincoln Lanes on weekday evenings and on the weekends because we both have day jobs. Cole has been working for the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office as a corporal in the jail for the past 10 years. I'm a pre-kindergarten teacher who has worked for Limon's Head Start for 17 years."

However, Cole and Kim's ambition is to do much more than just manage Lincoln Lanes.

"We're now the current managers of Lincoln Lanes but we're going to be its future owners," Cole said.

Kim agreed. "Jim and Vicki Paulson came to us and asked us to take it over four years ago, because they were looking to sell their farm and bowling alley so that they could move to Colorado Springs.

 We weren’t in a position at that time to be able to make that happen and we thought we had missed our opportunity.”

But it did not end there. Last year, they got another opportunity to buy Lincoln Lanes.

“Vicki came to us again and made us an offer we couldn’t pass up,” she said. “We didn’t want to miss out on that opportunity again. We didn’t think it would come along a third time. So, we took a huge leap of faith.”

They had made the decision to go ahead with the purchase, but then tragedy stepped into delay their plans.

“We have been talking about this since Vicki contacted us back in September/October,” Kim said. “The paperwork was being drawn up for the transition to take place last November, but then our house burned down just before Thanksgiving on November 23. Because of that, we were not in any position to take on that additional load.”

That misfortune may have thrown a monkey wrench into their plans, but it did not end the Brittons determination to eventually acquire Lincoln Lanes.

"After what had happened, Vicki said she would put everything on hold until we were ready," Cole said. "Since then, we've been putting things back together in our personal lives. By the end of January, we contacted her about moving forward. We will be managing Lincoln Lanes until September, when we'll be signing a long-term lease with an option to buy.”

Becoming the owners of the local bowling alley has been a longtime dream of the Brittons.
"This is something that Cole has wanted to do all his life," Kim said. "When we got married, he was seriously thinking about becoming a pro bowler, but then we had children and life happens."
Cole explained that he was raised in a family that takes bowling very seriously.

"I'm a third-generation bowler," he said. "When I was a kid, I'd go with my mom to the bowling alley and sleep on the benches while she bowled. My mom and grandmother were my coaches after I started bowling. Four years ago, my 80-year-old grandmother, my mother, my sons and I all bowled in a tournament here at Lincoln Lanes."

Bowling has always been a large part of Cole and Kim's married life.

"When we first moved to Limon 25 years ago, we joined a Sunday league to meet other people," Kim said. "I like bowling because it's fun, but Cole has always been serious about it. He was here at Lincoln Lanes so much of the time that I felt like I'd become a bowling widow."

In addition to their love for bowling, Cole and Kim said they now have an additional reason for wanting to own and operate Lincoln Lanes, explaining they want to use as a means of saying thanks to the community for all the support they received after their home was destroyed.

“Through what happened, God showed us how amazing our community is,” Kim said. “The help we received was incredible.”

Cole agreed. “We never dreamed we’d get the help we did, but the community was there for us,” he said. “Because of that, we want to give back to the community that did so much for us.”

To do that, the Brittons said their goal is to make Lincoln Lanes an even friendlier, more family-oriented facility.

“We want this to be a place where kids will want to go,” Kim said. “We’re bringing in a Wii and an air hockey game, and we’re currently looking to purchase an old-fashioned pinball machine. We’ll be having two kids after-school bowling leagues starting this fall. Also this fall, we’ll have color pin bowling on Saturdays and leagues on Sundays, as well as the Men’s, Women’s and Mixed Leagues.”
Cole said Lincoln Lanes will continue with the Fifth Quarter bowling events that Jim and Vicki did while they were here that were designed for the high school kids starting again this fall.

“The Fifth Quarter will be held Fridays through the entire school year,” he said. “All high school students are welcome, not just Limon but also Genoa-Hugo, Simla, Karval, Flagler and others. We want this to be a safe place where kids can come and have a good time.”

This summer, the Brittons are gearing up to host lots of league action at Lincoln Lanes. Family, mixed and kids leagues are planned.

At the present time, they are working hard to upgrade the bowling alley’s equipment and other amenities for the community to enjoy.

“Our son Cameron is a mechanical wizard and he’s been helping us repair the bowling alley’s pin-setting equipment,” Kim said. “We’ve also applied for a food license to be able to serve hamburgers, hot dogs, popcorn chicken and other concession stand food. We’re also working on a liquor license.”

At the present time, Lincoln Lanes holds open bowling every Friday and Saturday from 5-10 p.m. It is also available to host birthdays, graduation parties, bridal and baby showers, family reunions, anniversary parties and other events.

The Brittons say they are committed to making Lincoln Lanes a real asset to the community.
“This is the only bowling alley within 60 miles of Limon,” Cole said. “It’s not just for Limon and Lincoln County, but for the communities throughout this region.”

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