As you walk into Holiday Lanes, it’s like you’ve stepped back in time. Peach, turquoise, and gold adorn the back wall above the 12 bowling lanes. Faux wood paneling surrounds the sound of falling pins. There are no flashing lights. No big screen televisions. No lounge chairs. Nothing glitzy about it. However most days, you’ll be greeted by Owner Phyllis Christensen.
“Some people come in and say, ‘Now this is a bowling alley,’” said Christensen. “People say it looks like it’s from the 60’s and I think—that’s because it is!”
Christensen has been behind the counter or helping in the café for more than 50 years at Holiday Lanes. Built in 1962, Christensen’s father, John William “Bill” Jordan, bought the bowling alley two years later.
A few years after purchasing the bowling alley, Jordan would venture to Arizona each fall leaving Christensen in charge. Christensen worked alongside her husband, Garold, who was a farmer.
Holiday Lanes used to host leagues every night except Fridays and Saturdays. But a decline in league participation has been a trend throughout the nation.
Aside from the dwinding number of leagues, not much has changed at Holiday Lanes. The hardwood floors have been replaced and telescores have been added so bowlers are no longer responsible for scoring their own games.
Named by CNN Travel as one of the best “old-school” bowling alleys in America, it has been the set of numerous Hollywood movies. The bowling alley was even mentioned on national television by Tom Brokaw who ended up bowling there one evening with Robert Redford.
“My husband had no idea who they were. It was late so he told them ‘only one game and hurry.’ I almost fell off my stool when I realized who it was,” laughed Christensen.
Patrons don’t just come to bowl. The café is a big part of Christensen’s business.“Everyone tells us our burgers are the best they’ve ever had,” stated Christensen. “I can’t eat a hamburger anywhere else.”
Holiday Lanes uses beef from a butcher in Midway and hand-blends their shakes with hard ice cream and milk. “Our food is made to order. Nothing is pre-made,” said Jan Gines, Christensen’s daughter who oversees the café.
Long-time residents may recall the pies Christensen would make. “People still ask me if I make pie. I would if I could get into the kitchen,” she said.
There may be other reasons Christensen isn’t in the kitchen these days. “I have broken both shoulders. This arm doesn’t work like I want it to,” Christensen said as she grabbed her left arm. The soon-to-be 90-year-old said she isn’t allowed in the back anymore to help with the bowling machines. “It’s kind of frustrating. I can do it but they are afraid I’ll fall or something,” admitted Christensen.
Despite getting older, Christensen does not see herself retiring anytime soon. “People ask me ‘aren’t you retired?’ I’d probably die [if I retired] of boredom,” joked Christensen.
Christensen is a long-time supporter of Utah Valley University. She was awarded an honorary doctorate degree from Utah Valley University in its first commencement ceremony in 2009 alongside Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints President Thomas S. Monson. Christensen humbly said she wasn’t really sure why she was nominated. “Maybe it’s because I donated money for scholarships,” Christensen said.
With four children, 14 grandchildren, more than 40 great grandchildren, and four great, great grandchildren, the bowling alley has enabled Christensen to work beside many family members. “Every one of my grandchildren has worked for me,” Christensen said. Currently, Christensen has a couple of granddaughters and a grandson helping her along with her daughter.
Christensen has many memories of her time spent at Holiday Lanes and hopes her family continues its legacy of providing the community with family fun and good food.