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Tiki Central Forums General Tiki Final Goodbye to Kona Lanes~Costa Mesa, CA
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Final Goodbye to Kona Lanes~Costa Mesa, CA
SugarCaddyDaddy
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 03, 2002
Posts: 1500
From: Huntington Beach, California
Posted: 2003-05-21 3:19 pm   Permalink

Well, it happened earlier than expected. It hit The Orange County Register this morning. The original closing date of May 31st was not met, since, supposidley there hasn't been enough business to stay open these last few weeks.

As I pulled up at 11:45 a.m. today, I walk up and I hear a voice coming from the dumpster: "Hey, don't I know you?". Up pops the head of Tiki-Chris of ModCom. I introduced myself as we shake hands as I look at him bewildered as to why he is in there, but then understood very quickly...."The original blueprints are in here somewhere! The manager told me!" he says with a hopeful look on his face. It was either the truth or a cruel last joke from management. He kept looking without luck as I walked into the bowling alley realizing that with the decline of this great historic building, and the attitude of an "I only care about money" corporation that now runs this landmark, that he just might find something of value, in all places, a dumpster.

As you see in the article above, the owner, was suppose to be there negotiating prices on everything in the place. He conveniently was absent this week and is "on vacation". Unfortunately, there isn't anything from the Kona Lanes of yesteryear, only post-1990's items. The poor manager has been dealing with pissed off league managers, whose leagues that have been bowling there the past 10 to 20+ years, since no notification of closing the doors was given. Everyone who paid for a full league and were planning on finishing the month through were calling, leaving nasty messages on the machine which could be heard by all who were in earshot of the answering machine. Again, the owner is conveniently now on vacation. When you call, all you hear is "On May 19th, Kona Lanes is now closed after 50 years...." I don't believe that the leagues were really concerned about the money. I believe that they were really hoping to have a fun, last gathering at a place alot of us here in SoCal grew up with. It's like a loved one who passed on without the last chance to say goodbye.

The only activity now is the chance to buy some memorabilia, if you can call it that. Bowling pins are $5 each. None of which actually say "Kona Lanes". Bowling shoes are $10, and do say Kona Lanes, but were handwritten on the shoes by management as sort of an inventory control. Bowling balls are $5, but all the "Kona Lanes" imprinted ones are gone. The only items available were some old Kona Lanes shirts. As of a half-hour ago, there were about 100 shirts left, but I doubt there will be any left by the end of the day. I was fortunate to be the first person to find the shirts in a hidden little closet area.

Here are the shirts I ended up with, and I believe Bong will get a kick out of the "Nude Bowlers League" shirts.




The manager seemed pretty nice, even though she was swamped with people asking questions, and at one point while hanging out with her, you could actually see her wipe away a tear. She explained as she and I swapped old bowling stories, how she had gathered some of the original old photos, vintage score sheets, matches, etc., and how someone (possibly an ex-employee) stole everything! She was nice enough though to give me this as I walked out the door today:



I'm glad us Hoity Toity SoCal TC'ers got a chance to have a last bowl and drink at this fabulous, but slowly dying building this past year. It was really fun. For those of you that didn't attend, you can find pictures here.

For those passing this sign, which is still yet to receive it's unknown fate, here is what you can expect to see:





A closer look reveals Kona Lanes' last message:






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[ This Message was edited by: SugarCaddyDaddy on 2003-05-21 17:19 ]


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thejab
Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 2986
From: Tradewinds Apartments, Alameda, CA
Posted: 2003-05-21 4:04 pm   Permalink

So sad. These places are falling like dominos lately. I'm glad I drove down there to bowl last October while in LA.

the OC Register link didn't work for me. Try this one

http://www2.ocregister.com/ocrweb/ocr/article.do?id=40080&section=LOCAL&subsection=LOCAL&year=2003&month=5&day=21
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Luckydesigns
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Joined: Sep 15, 2002
Posts: 2166
From: Costa Mesa
Posted: 2003-05-21 5:33 pm   Permalink

I feel like, if I had just one more chance, I'd be able to say good bye..... It's a shame they didn't annouce the closing more publicly....

I'm kinda speechless.....
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So_Cal_Native_in_Texas
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Joined: May 22, 2003
Posts: 11
From: Houston, TX/Orange County, CA
Posted: 2003-05-23 7:06 pm   Permalink

Whaddaya think, maybe the errant, anonymous tiki spirit of Kona Lanes bowling balls might somehow find the supernatural strength to toss themselves through future Kohl's display windows, like lemmings flinging themselves off cliffs, in a mad, desperate act of protest? It could happen.

Last night, in honor of our lamented Kona Lanes (which I was fool enough never to have actually bowled at, even though I lived for several years just down the street -- don't know what you got 'til it's gone), I, here in Houston, TX, bowled two games at the Palace Lanes, the first time I have bowled in about a decade. I made a point of telling the alley proprietors about it as well (it was a bit light last night, due to league play having finished up already and summer league play not yet started, but they told me that on league nights and weekends you can't find a parking space, it's so packed -- and I can verify that! I've driven past and been amazed that so many cars were in the parking lot of a bowling alley!). They were saddened to hear of it, and stunned at the OC housing prices I quoted to them.

I've heard that Kohl's stores are here in Houston. I visited their website, and I was taken aback. It's like Mervyn's meets Bed Bath and Beyond. BIIIIIIIG DEAL! They're gonna destroy a classic architectural style for THAT?

Tiki culture is becoming bigger, and bigger, and bigger. Its popularity worldwide is surging and broadening every year.

These idiots are going to RUE the day they made this boneheaded decision.

*sigh* I love you guys just for being here.
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Luckydesigns
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Joined: Sep 15, 2002
Posts: 2166
From: Costa Mesa
Posted: 2003-05-29 12:34 am   Permalink

Daily Pilot/ May 28th, 2003

from, 'Not a Gutter Ball Yet':

"Several entertainment operators say they would take over Kona Lanes in a heartbeat if a long term lease or the right price to buy thet land was available.
'It's a goldmine,' said Joe Roussin of AMF Bowling. 'I don't care what anybody says on the Seagerstrom side. I have several people that are interested in that facility, at the right price....[The Seagerstroms] don't even want to look at it. They are just saying it's dead and want to tear it down.'"

"Councilman Allan Mansoor said he believes recreational options are still viable at Mesa Verde, but the onus is on the Seagerstroms to provide them.
'There's no doubt in my mind that a recreational type of use could work there and that there are people that are interested in such a use, but the bottom line is that it's going to be up to the Seagerstrom's to bring something forward,' Mansoor said.
As far as Development Services Director Perry Valantine knows, the Seagerstroms have not yet applied for a permit to demolish Kona. But once they do, the bulldozers can start immediately, Valantine said.
A step Cromwell would like to avoid at all costs.
'When the wrecking ball hits Kona Lanes, it's gone forever and they're probably going to get in there within the next couple of weeks and start demolition,' Cromwell said. 'As long as that building is still there, that has value to someone else.'"


If something isn't done quickly, Kona will fall forever. Futura, what is your advice from the ModComers?
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So_Cal_Native_in_Texas
Tiki Centralite

Joined: May 22, 2003
Posts: 11
From: Houston, TX/Orange County, CA
Posted: 2003-05-29 5:10 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2003-05-29 00:34, Luckydesigns wrote:
Daily Pilot/ May 28th, 2003

from, 'Not a Gutter Ball Yet':

If something isn't done quickly, Kona will fall forever. Futura, what is your advice from the ModComers?




Well, here's what I posted on this topic over at Lotta Living.com's board --

Sounds like we need to get our local OC folks on the ball here drumming up support for the Costa Mesa City Council to declare Kona Lanes a historical landmark, and then encourage all the other developers and bowling center operators to besiege the Segerstroms with a virtual glut of proposals to renovate the site, and PUSH THOSE LONG TERM LEASES!

The Segerstroms are turning their back on their family heritage. They were a successful lima bean farming family, and they just happened to own a lot of the land that's become so valued over the past several decades, mostly due to South Coast Plaza's success. But they keep wanting to deny their humble beginnings and become some sort of upper class clan, and they're all about power-power-power. The simple fact is, if it wasn't for Walt Disney, it's likely nobody would have wanted their farmland as much as they do. They got lucky, really. I never even knew that Mesa Verde Center was a Segerstrom property until I started seeing the South Coast Plaza security guards driving around there. The Segerstroms have, for many years, come across as being all about wealth and appealing to the upper classes. I think they look at bowling and other middle-class and blue collar entertainments as beneath them. They'd like to be Donald Bren. They come off as very selfish and anti-community, and tend to think of their own short-term financial interests rather than the good of the city and the needs of Orange County residents. They need to be upbraided about this, and reminded that they put their pants on the same way as everyone else does.

But, in the meantime, let's work to get the Costa Mesa City Council to declare Kona Lanes historic! There are some sympathetic council members! It's worth it to try! Don't give up, everyone!

Heck, if I was there with y'all, I'd be blocking the bulldozers or chaining myself to one of those palm trees just to get some press.
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SpaceAgeCity
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Nov 17, 2002
Posts: 59
From: Orange County, CA
Posted: 2003-06-02 12:54 am   Permalink

Much of the interior at Kona Lanes has already been torn out as of Friday afternoon. The crews were supposedly going to work through the weekend, so god only knows how little is left.

I encourage Futura (who was eyeing Kona's jungle foliage) to get over there with a shovel and a truck before the bulldozers arrive.

Sadly, I did *not* get the blueprints, as other scavengers (as I later learned) probably beat me to the punch. I actually *saw* the blueprints a few years ago, and they ALMOST let me have them -- until they had last-minute second thoughts. Anyway, I went back a month ago, and they couldn't find them. When I went in on June 21st, Juanita (the good-hearted but overworked manager), told me they ran across the blueprints the day before and had thrown them out!!! (Insert expletives here.)

See Sugar Caddy Daddy's post (above) for the rest of *that* story. Let's just say it was a nasty experience, and one I never plan to repeat. Do I get some sort of Urban Archaeologist merit badge?

Anyway, I loitered around for long enough to snag a late-50s pink/black/white bowling ball (Kona's original color scheme), a 1960s modern fiberglass chair (light green), a couple bowling pins and an unused employee shirt.

I also got the chance to talk to a few folks who had been bowling there since it opened in 1958. I grilled them for details and found out quite a bit about the place.

Another icon fades into the sunset, my favorite bowling alley is kaput, and Juanita is out of a job. Massive bummer all the way around.

CJ

[ This Message was edited by: SpaceAgeCity on 2003-06-03 13:43 ]


 
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SpaceAgeCity
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Nov 17, 2002
Posts: 59
From: Orange County, CA
Posted: 2003-06-03 2:00 pm   Permalink

As of yesterday, Kona Lanes' big roadside sign was laying on the ground in the parking lot. It looks like they were careful not to cause much damage in removing it, so perhaps someone who cares landed it for their collection.

Workmen were putting a fence up around the property, but I still got in to take a few photos. (Not yet developed.)

The interior is about 1/2 to 2/3 gutted.

The only good news is that a few of the nicer plants outside have been carefully removed. Let's hope they found good homes.

For those interested, 5 of the original scoring/projection tables were snapped up by the "vintage" store across the street. These aren't the tables used recently, but were stored somewhere in a back room all these years.

Anyway, the vintage store is a bit hard to spot. Look for a record store called "Noise, Noise, Noise," and the vintage store (which has no sign, but is called "53rd & 3rd") is just a couple doors down. I'd guess the tables are for sale, but they haven't been priced yet. (The owner was out when I stopped past.)

As for earlier comments about the Costa Mesa city council,... They long ago assessed their options for saving the Kona. They wanted it to stay, but they didn't have much leverage. Thanks to our (ahem) esteemed Governor, I'd be surprised if the city could afford enough lawyers to fight the Seagarstroms. (I'd guess the city doesn't want to cross swords with the Segarstroms anyway. It would be like Anaheim fighting Disney.)

Did I mention that the bar at Kona Lanes was originally Polynesian themed? Wish I had a photo of THAT!

CJ



 
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thejab
Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 2986
From: Tradewinds Apartments, Alameda, CA
Posted: 2003-06-03 7:00 pm   Permalink

Does anyone know how to get a hold of the owners regarding the sign? I notified the American Sign Museum last year but just emailed them again when I heard the sign was taken down recently. They want to see if they can save it.
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SugarCaddyDaddy
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 03, 2002
Posts: 1500
From: Huntington Beach, California
Posted: 2003-06-03 8:52 pm   Permalink

Here's some info as of today, June 3, 2003:

I head out at about 4 pm. I take a few snap shots of the now fenced in, abandoned and half-gutted Kona Lanes. You see it as I saw it today:






I look up and see Kona's last words:





Note the Kona Lanes sign that has been there almost 45 years, is now on the ground:


(You can't tell, but yes, a chain link fence is surrounding the whole lot.)

Not more that 4 or 5 minutes passes after I took these initial pictures, two guys in a pickup truck with a really small rented red trailer comes in followed by a guy in a tie driving a black BMW. The trailer is REALLY small in comparison to the sign, so I figured that no way are these guys going to try to lift this sign and get it into the 8 foot(?) trailer. So I walk over (while on the outside of the fence on the sidewalk), I pretend to take pictures of the remaining standing sign, and trying to hear what the conversation was about. I see the guy in the tie, or the "OK Guy", another guy (who I refer to as "A-hole" and his buddy "Dweeb"), as he sizes up the Kona sign on the ground and kicks it, like he's checking the tires or something! What? Yeah, he kicked it while the sign was down! I thought "what is that suppose to be for?". So I pipe up and say, "Excuuuuuuuuse me sir...what will happen to the Kona Lanes sign?" I direct this question to the "OK Guy", but the "A-hole" turns to me, points his finger and says "Hey, don't you worry 'bout it!", as the "Dweeb" nods in approval of "A-Holes" comment. I was kind of shocked! The "OK Guy" gives the "A-Hole" a funny look and says to me "the City of Costa Mesa is taking an interest in it". OK.....I don't get a good vibe from the "A-Hole" and thought 'oh what the hell', so I look at the "A-Hole" and say "HEY! EAT ME!", as I grab my crotch and shake my Pin & Gutterballs at him Joe Pesci/Robert DeNiro style. It's not like me to do that, but I think that I was pissed since he seemed to disrespect the Kona sign, not to mention the smart remark he gave me. The "OK Guy" laughs, and adds that he cannot comment any more on the sign. I then hear "DAMNIT!" as the "A-Hole" hurts his hand slightly as he attempts to try to lift one end of the sign, I assume to see how heavy it really is. I don't normally take pleasure in other people's pain, but in this instance, I do believe KONA got his/her shot in.



So to end this long story, I walk back to my car, still parked at the entrance of the fenced in lot. I hang out for a couple of minutes since I had to answer my cell phone, and out comes the "OK Guy" about 10 feet from me at the gates entrance. I hear him on his cell as he stands just feet from me and says to his office "yeah, the fence is up, but we still don't have the chain and lock here to secure the sign inside the fence".

Oh, if I only had a huge truck to snag that Kona sign!

Personally, I think that the A-Hole & Dweeb are just looking to make a buck either by selling the sign for scrap or as is for profit. If they were truly a sign company, they would not have pulled up with a pickup and a rented undersized trailer.

I don't have much else to add. I'll stop by again soon, and will comment only if I see/hear anything different.

Sorry for the long read, but I wanted to be as thorough as possible.


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[ This Message was edited by: sugarcaddydaddy on 2003-06-03 21:01 ]


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Boob
Tiki Centralite

Joined: May 26, 2003
Posts: 33
Posted: 2003-06-03 10:13 pm   Permalink

where are the Pidgeons going to hang now???

 
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Lake Surfer
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Oct 21, 2002
Posts: 3379
From: Milwaukee, WI
Posted: 2003-06-03 11:23 pm   Permalink

I understand the point would be to get the whole sign... but yes... even if you could just score the "Kona" part! Sad to see these things destroyed... all traces of Wisconsin and Milwaukee's tiki were totally wiped out years ago... its really too bad that remaining cultural landmarks are not valued and allowed to stand.

 
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cynfulcynner
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 24, 2002
Posts: 1800
From: Ocean Beach, San Francisco
Posted: 2003-06-06 11:44 am   Permalink


The closure of the Kona Lanes made it into today's OC Weekly:

http://www.ocweekly.com/ink/03/40/cover-pignataro.php

(thanks Nic!)

--cindy
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SpaceAgeCity
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Nov 17, 2002
Posts: 59
From: Orange County, CA
Posted: 2003-06-06 3:39 pm   Permalink

To contact the (former?) owner of Kona Lanes, Jack Mann, call Tustin Lanes. (Sorry I don't have the #, but I'm sure it's online somewhere.)

CJ


 
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lynxwiler
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Jun 22, 2003
Posts: 20
From: downtown L.A.
Posted: 2003-06-22 6:57 pm   Permalink

Good news~!

The KONA LANES BOWL neon signage is being saved by the American Sign Museum of Cincinnati, Ohio. I'm certain there are some folks out there who may be upset that this SoCal icon is moving to the midwest, but think about it this way: it's being saved from a worse fate and is going to a museum where it will be appreciated by thousands of visitors for years to come.

The sign will soon make the trek to Ohio and the American Sign Museum is requesting donations for the KONA LANE's transport and refurbishment. The museum is a 501(c)(3) organization so donations towards the KONA LANES will be tax deductible. If you wish to become a museum member or make a donation, mail your check to the American Sign Museum, 407 Gilbert Avenue, Cincinatti, OH 45202. (800) 925-1110. Check them out at
www.signmuseum.org.

-------------------------------
The purpose of the American Sign Museum is to preserve, archive and display a historical collection of signs in their many types and forms. The Museum will also document and survey the products and equipment utilized in the design and manufacture of signs, and offer biographical information of the people who have contributed to the industry.
The Museum is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation and was founded in 1999 as the National Signs of the Times Museum.

American Sign Museum
407 Gilbert Avenue
Cincinnati, Ohio 45202
(800) 925-1110
(513) 421-2050, ext. 336
Fax: (513) 421-5144
www.signmuseum.org


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