Not every family can work together, but the Strides have had a lot of practice through owning and operating Plaza Bowling Co. for 58 years.
Now after 40 years, Terry Stride has handed the keys to his son Trevor. “I think it’s fabulous,” the senior Stride said. “I have to, probably at times, just force myself to step back and let him do what he wants to do—the same thing that my dad did.”
When Terry’s father Lawrence offered him the job in 1977, he recalled, “I thought I would try it for one year and I’m still here.”
Lawrence Stride opened the lanes in 1959, with investment from his own father, making Plaza Bowl a family business spanning four generations.
Two years ago, the elder Stride was toying with retirement. The prospect of losing all this history woke his son to the possibility of a new future with Plaza Bowling Co.
That future is now, and the son has brought big changes to the lanes.
First, there’s hand-picked craft beer from four Alberta brewers. Second, marvellously melty gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches have brought focus to the food. Third, indie music provides a new soundtrack. Add some flat screen TVs for the big game, and you have a winning combo.
Not everything is changing. “It’s such a time warp when you come down here, in a good way,” the younger Stride tells me. Original hardwood benches and retro drapes are still intact. “This is a beautiful space, and there’s no need to change any of that,” he said, “but we really wanted to focus on the social end of bowling.”
Promotions like The Afternooner, where beers and games are just $4.95 each until 5 pm, make the bowling lane an affordable place to socialize.
The sandwiches alone are worth a trip. I order the classic, with two-year aged cheddar oozing between slices of crispy sourdough from Alberta Avenue’s Popular Bakery.
“It’s just taking great ingredients and letting them do the work,” said the younger Stride. He was an early partner in Famoso, learning from their success. “For me it was about acquiring a skill set and really making sure I had a really good foundation and then trying to do my own thing.”
The new direction is already working.
“I’ve been blown away by the way people have responded, and how quickly the city’s mobilized and started making their way down,” said the younger Stride. His father agrees: “I’m just ecstatic that it’s happening!” It’s here that the pride of a father kicks in. “Right now he’s blowing the doors off!”
Some day soon, the elder Stride will end his final shift and walk out the front door, leaving nearly 60 years of history behind. Had his son not carried on the Plaza legacy, “it would have been such a different experience,” he reflected. “I think it would be a combination of shock and sadness. But now—this is just nothing but good time right now.”
Find hours and rates on the new website at plazabowlingco.ca
Header Image: Terry Stride (left) is handing over Plaza Bowling Co.(104 St & 118 Ave) to his son, Trevor Stride (right). | Dave Von Bieker