Bowlski’s will keep on rolling in El Jebel through bankruptcy |

Bowlski’s will keep on rolling in El Jebel through bankruptcy

Bowlski’s owner Craig Spivey takes a time out from renovation work in 2016 to bowl a few frames at the alley in El Jebel.
Anna Stonehouse/The Aspen Times file photo

Bowlski’s in El Jebel declared bankruptcy Sunday but will keep its lanes open and the beer flowing as it works to reorganize its debts under Chapter 11, according to co-owner and operator Craig Spivey.

“It really comes down to the back rent we owe from during COVID” Spivey said Tuesday. “We’re current with everybody else, but we’re behind on our rent for when we closed during COVID.”

Spivey was upbeat Tuesday about the future of the bowling alley, which opened in 1992 under the ownership of the Stecklein family. Spivey and other investors acquired the El Jebowl business — but not the building — in 2016. While they changed the alley’s name to Bowlski’s, El Jebowl LLC is the corporate name for the business.

The pandemic’s toll on Bowlski’s was similar to what other businesses have experienced, Spivey said. Hiring has been difficult, and business activity dropped, but Spivey said December was strong, and he sees a brighter future.

“We love it there, and we appreciate everybody’s support 100%,” he said. “We’re on a long list of people that have been fighting to stay open and have appreciated everybody’s help and understanding.”

The midvalley bowling alley was closed for nearly three months from March 15, 2020 — which was two days after former President Donald Trump declared the coronavirus a national emergency — until June 1.

“That really hurt us,” Spivey said. “Our sales were hit hard.”

The staff of 14 to 16 employees pre-pandemic now comprises six workers, he said.

The bankruptcy case is in its early stages, and a telephonic meeting of creditors is scheduled Feb. 7, according to court documents.

The company’s bankruptcy petition lists Bowlski’s assets between $50,001 and $100,000 and its liabilities (the amount it owes to creditors) between $100,001 and $500,000. A summary of those liabilities, which identifies the creditors and the amount owed to them, had not been filed as of 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Crawford Properties LLC owns the building that houses the bowling alley and its accompanying restaurant and bar. Bowlski’s also owns and operates the restaurant and bar business.

A telephone message left Tuesday with Robert Hubbell, president of Crawford Properties, was not immediately returned, and Spivey declined to say how much money the landlord is due.

“It’s a lot,” he said, adding he is waiting on funds from an Economic Injury Disaster Loan, which is a program of the Small Business Administration.

As well, Bowlski’s in 2020 received funds through the Paycheck Protection Program, with a first round amount of $24,443 and a second round amount of $34,220, according to an SBA database of PPP loans. That money helped keep the business afloat, Spivey said, noting that it was forced to close early, at 10 p.m., when the public health orders were in full throttle in 2020.

Now, it is open from 4 p.m. to midnight, and those extra two hours of operations make a big difference, he said. The late-night vibe has changed now with the addition of DJs and other offerings, he said.

“It’s added a whole new dynamic and a different demographic,” he said.

Spivey also is the president of Dallas-based BowlBrands, which opens and operates bowling businesses and alleys.

“We’ve have invested a lot of money to stay here in the valley,” said Spivey, who also lives in the Basalt-El Jebel area.

The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Colorado in Denver is the venue for the case. The Law Offices of Kevin S. Neiman PC in Denver is representing Bowlski’s in the proceedings.