Even as people began to fill the lanes at The All Star, the new bowling alley in Riverhead, employees were assembling tables and jumping under the ball return to tweak the equipment.
But the customers just couldn’t wait to get in.
Paul Dichtl, 53, of Calverton, said he feels like he’s been waiting 10 years for the alley to open. The lifelong bowler -- with an average of over 217 -- used to drive as far as Sayville and Centereach to bowl.
“This place is just three miles from my house,” he said. “I’ve been waiting for this.”
The All Star -- with 28 lanes, an arcade room, two bars and a restaurant -- officially opened to the public Thursday night, after teasing whispers of a bowling alley first began in 2007 under different ownership.
The previous owners began building in 2009, but ran into financial issues and abandoned the project, opening the doors for the current owners, Peter Sgroi, Jeffrey Rimland and architect Chris Smith.
“We started building in April,” Sgroi said. “It was a quick timeline and there was nothing here. There were lanes, that’s it.”
Sgroi, 43, who recently moved to East Moriches, said he and his partners had a vision of a place where anyone could find something to do at any time.
The All Star -- a name that purposefully leaves out any reference to bowling -- is designed like a nightclub with lounge seating, leather settees, table service at the lanes, neon track lighting and screens lining the back wall that are “bigger than I’ve seen in some movie theaters,” Sgroi said.
In the spring, they plan to offer miniature golf outside, and in the future, hope to turn the bar area into a full restaurant with a brick oven and a menu designed by Keith Luce, the chef at Jamesport’s Luce & Hawkins.
“I grew up out here,” said Luce, who was sampling food at the bar on opening day. “This is what we need out there. There’s nothing to do on a rainy day in the summer, in the autumn or winter. This is a place you can come with your family and feel comfortable.”
Flashy extras aside, the North Fork community that came to bowl on Thursday evening were most excited for just that -- the chance to bowl.
The All Star is the first new bowling alley to open on Long Island in at least 30 years, and fills a gap on the North Fork since the Mattituck Bowling Lanes closed around 2000, according to the Long Island United States Bowling Congress.
There is also another bowling alley in Riverhead, Wildwood Lake Bowl.
“This is new, it’s different,” said Greg Spano, 36, of Flanders, who said he hasn’t been bowling in years -- possibly since the Mattituck alley closed -- and has been waiting for The All Star to open. “I used to bowl in a league, I even brought my own ball today, but I couldn’t use it.”
Dichtl and his 20-year-old son, Max, were some of the first people on the lanes Thursday. Obviously excited, Dichtl said he has a long history with bowling. He grew up in New York City and his mother was a bowler. She would always let him push the ball down the lane for her last frame. Dichtl said his son started bowling the exact same way.
“I think we’ll probably be here a lot,” said Max Dichtl, as he and his dad finished up and untied their bowling shoes for the night.