Austin's iconic Dart Bowl to permanently close on Friday after 62 years

After 62 years of family fun, league play, and legendary enchiladas, Austin’s Dart Bowl will close for good at the end of the day on Friday, July 17.

Citing the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Dart Bowl’s founding family and owners have opted to close the local favorite on Grover Avenue down. Originally located at Anderson and Burnet, the Dart Bowl was moved to its current location in 1986.

Dart Bowl

“This is a terrible loss for our family and for Austin, but a pandemic that keeps people home is also keeping them away from local entertainment options,” said Dart Bowl co-owner John Donovan in a release. “This is the toughest thing we’ve ever had to do as business owners, but it was our only option.”

The Dart Bowl was founded in 1958 by Donovan's grandfather Harry Peterson, who was joined in partnership ten years later by Jerry and Betty Ray, who, along with her son, remain involved in ownership and management of the company’s three bowling alleys with Donovan and his wife, Jacy.


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The Dart Bowl was used as a filming location for director Richard Linklater's film Boyhood starring Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, and Ethan Hawke, and for the NBC drama series Friday Night Lights. 

Since the pandemic hit, the bowling alleys have endured a number of challenges, ranging from a state-mandated two-month shutdown to the ongoing, widespread discomfort customers have with leaving home, made worse by the recent surge in coronavirus diagnoses and deaths, said the company in the release.

“As a family business owner, you can plan for a lot of things, but I don’t think anyone, anywhere thought we’d be dealing with a global pandemic this year,” said Donovan. “I’m happy for people who can work from home, but the fact you can’t bowl from home is what killed the Dart Bowl.”

Another casualty of the closure is the Dart Bowl Café, revered by foodies for its old school enchiladas whose secret recipe has remained unchanged for years. Owned by the Martinets family, the Café will also close with no plans to reopen.

Despite the Dart Bowl’s closure, the company’s Highland Lanes and Westgate Lanes locations will remain open.

“It’s tough to let this place go, but it’s worse to say goodbye to people like Peggy Zamarippa who has worked here for nearly sixty years,” said Donovan. “We all look forward to folks who have enjoyed the place making one last visit, rolling one last game, eating one last order of enchiladas before we shut it down Friday.”


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