Up next: Chacko's Family Bowling Center (Wilkes-Barre, PA)
Thank you for your generous offer to small businesses during this time. Your dedication to those of us who can’t make it right now is overwhelming.
My family has owned an operated a bowling center/bar-restaurant in Northeast PA since 1972. We are currently being run by 2nd and 3rd generation family members. And before I even get into asking for help, please let me explain that we have been through hardship before.
My grandfather signed the papers for purchase of our original center the DAY BEFORE the Agnes Flood hit and devastated Wilkes Barre, Pa in June of 1972. While I wasn’t around for what happened that day or immediately afterwards, my father has told me stories about trying to secure the new building with his father before the levees broke. My dad was 16 when this occurred.
It goes on that my Grandfather used a small boat he had to help get to his neighbors once the flooding began. My father was at the levee near the Susquehanna River piling sandbags to try to stop the flood. All this while the rest of the family was home with a son with Muscular Dystrophy and a daughter with Lupus who desperately wanted to help but couldn’t. Eventually the levee broke. The area was destroyed.
In the aftermath, my grandfather, my father, his brother and countless friends helped to completely gut and rebuild this bowling center that we purchased at a very inopportune time. The hours and physical labor dedicated to getting this investment up and running are immeasurable. Because of this, my family knows what it’s like to work. We hear the stories. We put in the hours. No one is above doing any job at our facility. But we’ve worked hard to hang on and be what we are today.
In 1998, we opened our current building on North Wilkes Barre Boulevard in Wilkes Barre, PA. We employ over 50 people. We are bowling, food and drink. We host thousands of people a week (normally). We do countless fundraisers at our facility for numerous and varied organizations and individuals and donate as much as we can each year …. Not because it “looks good” but because we are part of a community.
This pandemic has crushed our business. Forced to be closed March-June and only able to open at half capacity after that (which ends up being less due to increased expense of cleaning, time between groups and the fact that a lot of people are too scared to come out)… then forced closed again now for what is inarguably our busiest time of the year. We have kept our takeout food business going as much as we can. We have continued to pay our employees (even giving “hazard pay” during the height of everything earlier this year) and we want to continue to do so. Our staff are also a part of our family.
We are getting overloaded with bills… electric, gas, insurance, garbage, water, phone, mortgage etc and don’t forget our taxes (which by the way, we have been getting late fees that “cannot be waived” because we have been closed and can’t pay them in full on a normal schedule this year ONLY). A normal month sees bills around $55,000 between payroll and bills for bowling center and bar/restaurant.
Honestly, asking at all is heart wrenching because we certainly prefer more to give (and if we can we want to), but I have watched the hours, energy and money my father and his father and family have put into this business. It’s a staple in our lives. They’ve worked too hard to have to lose it all now … 38 years later.
Thank you for your consideration.
Kara Chacko Hodorowski
Chacko's Family Bowling Center