Bowlers Come Say Goodbye to Pickwick

Local entertainment spot plays its last game.

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(Photo by Ross A Benson)

An institution in Burbank for more than 60 years, many stopped by on Sunday to say one last goodbye to the Pickwick Bowling Alley that has served the community for decades.
“I came here when I was a kid and I’m 72. It’s the end of an era because they don’t look like this anymore. You really feel the age of the place. I wish they could have incorporated it somehow into the residential that is replacing it,” said Gary Leonard, who grew up in the San Fernando Valley, and brought his camera to help remember Pickwick.

Chloe Rhys said she grew up in Pasadena, but would frequent Pickwick.

“Everything I love and have grown up with in LA inevitably seems to disappear. It is always heartbreaking and bowling was always something I did with my family,” she said. “It was one of my favorite bowling alleys. It’s a great spot. I think it is hard to think it will be townhouses. There’s so many unique details architecturally. It is a special place. The little saloon area and the signage is all authentic. I came out to take some pictures. They are selling bowling pins and water bottles, so I wanted to take home a little piece of it.”

Dave Casella also came to see Pickwick for one last time.

“I know there used to be the Pickwick drive-in and it is gone and now this is going to follow the same path. I know the drive-in was here and it is even in a movie called Blue Thunder. Being that I’ve been in the bowling alley I can at least say goodbye to it,” Casella said.

Randall Bobbitt is also sorry to see it go.

“It is totally heartbreaking. Apartments aren’t really helping out the community as much as a bowling alley, a place to congregate,” Bobbitt said.

Bobbitt’s friend August Agosti also offered thoughts of the future of bowling alleys.

“Sadly I think bowling alleys are becoming a relic of our time. All of the bowling alleys, even Jewel City in Glendale, the closest one to here was bought recently and barely kept alive,” Agosti said. “It is hard to keep these places in business these days. It isn’t because people aren’t showing up to bowl. It is expensive to maintain the rents, and the cost of electricity and everything else. Pickwick hasn’t had food since they came back from Covid. That was one of the big things, you could come here and eat a meal and bowl a game with our kids. It is a big loss.”

Tom Welker, who has worked at Pickwick for nine years, said it is hard to see it close.

“Fortunately it is an old house and it has always been an old house.  The last few years before Covid we were doing great. We had a great team, the leagues were fun. I worked with a lot of the leagues since I’ve been here, so I’ve gotten to know a lot of these people. It has always been fun. There’s a nice sense of community in most bowling alleys. We’ve been here longer than I’ve been alive and for some of these people I don’t know what a lot of my bowlers are going to do. It was location convenience; it was people who have spent most of their lives more or less. A lot of them may not bowl anymore and it sucks to see it go. I was hoping that because it took so long for them to get the approvals for the condos, I held out hope that it was actually going to go to someone who was actually going to keep it. The place could have used some touchups, but there’s not much you can do. The powers that be decided to do what they wanted to do. I owe it to my boss, to my coworkers. They made this place a lot of fun. They made it very entertaining and I’m kind of bummed to see it all wrap up today.”