Eric Eakin

Tullahoma Lanes owner Eric Eakin measures out a ceiling tile ahead of Tuesday's phased reopening. 

Tullahoma Lanes will be looking to welcome back customers with a phased reopening on Tuesday, that according to owner Eric Eakin.

On Jan. 31, Eakin officially took over as the owner of the Tullahoma alley. However, 45 days after taking over the reins, Eakin made the decision to close down Tullahoma Lanes due to COVID-19 concerns.

After closing the doors, the new Tullahoma owner worked on making visual improvements around the alley. That included but was not limited to lining the walls with fresh coats of paint, repairing the ceiling tiles and even getting the parking lot repaired, seal coated and restriped.

Ahead of Tuesday’s reopening, Eakin said that he is using this weekend to train his staff on the new precautions. Tullahoma Lanes will only operate at 50 percent full, leaving at least one lane between customers and no more than five can bowl on any lane.

“I know the state says you can have up to six people, but we’d have five chairs at an actual table and so that way we can keep five people right at the lane and not congregating around other areas,” Eakin said. “So we won’t allow more than five on a lane and more than 10 in a group.”

Days before Tullahoma Lanes closed, the bowling alley was already taking steps for customer and employee safety. Ahead of closing, customers were told to leave their bowling equipment on the lane. Employees were required to wear gloves and clean the areas after guests left the alley. That will continue moving forward.

Employees will also be required to wear masks. Additionally, there will be plexiglass at the customer service areas and they’ll be required to be mindful of working at safe distances between each other. That will extend to the customers as well, as Eakin wants bowlers to maintain the six feet of social distancing.

Each lane will have a selection of bowling balls. However, the lightweight balls will be held at the customer service desk.

“Once a customer leaves, we’ll go down to that lane and we’ll sanitize the entire table, chairs, undersides of the chairs where people touch and everything,” Eakin said. “That includes the touch screens, front and back, the entire ball return. Bowling balls will be sanitized and cleaned. Shoes will be brought back to the desk and sanitized and put away.”

As of press time, the plan is for Tullahoma Lanes is to reopen on Tuesday at 11 a.m. On some weekday mornings, the intention is to offer a seniors only time period.

“Monday, Wednesday and Fridays in the short term, from 10 a.m. until noon, we’ll open for seniors only,” Eakin said. “Seniors are a very high percentage of our customer base. A lot of our league bowlers, they’re going to come whether we recommend it or not. The doors are open, we can’t say, ‘No, you’re not allowed. You’re high risk.’”

Tullahoma Lanes will be open Monday through Saturday and be closed on Sunday. Regular business hours will be from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. on Monday-Thursday. On Friday and Saturday, the alley will be open from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. 

When it comes to food service, Eakin said Tullahoma Lanes will be operating on a limited menu. However, he said that they’ll try to carry as much of the normal menu that they can.

“We do get a lot of lunch call in orders during the week,” Eakin said. “So we anticipate getting that rolling again, and we’re really going to be pushing curbside pickup. They can call it in and we’ll bring it out to them. If they want to pay over the phone with their card, we’d love to do that. But, the less cash and cards we can touch the better.”

Ahead of Tuesday’s reopening, Eakin said that he wanted to thank the Tullahoma bowling community. According to him, several members have reached out, to check in and offer any support possible.

“They called, sent texts, bought prepaid bowling and just helped get news out on social media,” Eakin said. “We’ve been overwhelmed by the love.”

For updates on Tullahoma Lanes, customers are told to check out the alley’s Facebook page, at www.facebook.com/bowltullahoma/.

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