Live Music Breathes New Life Into Westside Bowl

New Life as Music Venue for Bowling Alley

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The dream for Nathan and Jami Offerdahl to own a music venue that could accommodate up to 500 patrons has found a home in the west side of Youngstown in an unlikely place.

The former Strikers bowling lanes at 2617 Mahoning Avenue provides live music as well as the opportunity to bowl a few frames.

The Offerdahls opened Westside Lanes after buying Strikers in March for $220,000.

“Our intention was never to buy a bowling alley when we first got started,” says Nathan Offerdahl.

Offerdahl says that their inspiration came from bowling alleys such as Mahall’s in Cleveland, Hollywood Lanes in Pittsburgh and the Garden Bowl in Detroit that found success with live music.

“For years, friends of mine bemoaned the fact that we don’t have music venues like the Garage Shop in Cleveland, or like the Rex Theatre in Pittsburgh,” Offerdahl says.

Nathan Offerdahl serves customers lunch.

Westside Bowl offers live music from hip hop to rock, and even solo acoustic, according to Offerdahl.

“We have regional bands as well as bands from as far away as L.A. and Boston,” Offerdahl says.

Bands perform Thursday through Saturday at the Westside. However, some play on a Tuesday or Wednesday, Offerdahl says. “With national touring bands, we have to take them when we get them due to the fact that they usually play markets larger than Youngstown on the weekends.”

The couple received help from friend Genna Petrolla at the Regional Chamber, the Small Business Development Center at Youngstown State University and Mahoning Valley Economic Development Corp. to write a business plan.

“We plan to spend $200,000 in renovations, bringing the total investment close to 500,000,” says Offerdahl.

The removal of eight of the 24 lanes, as well as re-joining the bar and lounge to the lanes are part of the renovations, Offerdahl says. The removal of the lanes will provide the area for the stage. The acts currently perform what Offerdahl calls the Trophy Room apart from the lanes on the lower level.

“We want people to have open access to the bar as well as the entire place feeling like one space,” Offerdahl says. “We plan to have a space for events as small as 80 to 150, and one for larger events up to 500.”

According to Offerdahl, crowds range from 80 to 120 people on performance nights.

Offerdahl says that the alleys get people of all ages but that they expect people who range from 35 to 54 years old.

“We get a lot of regular West Siders that have been coming to hang out at the bar. We have another group of folks that come just to bowl, and a third group that come for the music.”

Offerdahl says that having the three groups under one roof with things to do wasn’t in the business plan: “We have a wider array of people that has really made for a cool environment.”

The website for the Westside Bowl includes a GoFundMe page. The Westside serves food and hosts parties.

The Offerdahls live in Austintown not far from the Westside. Jami is a lifelong resident while Nathan, originally from South Dakota, attended high school here.

Westside Bowl is open from noon to midnight Monday through Thursday, open till 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday and Sunday noon to 10 p.m.

Open bowling is 4 p.m. to midnight Monday through Saturday and Sundays till 10 p.m.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.