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Tough times at Tough Guy Lanes

POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - Many businesses are facing hard times due to social distancing protocols, especially ones that rely on customer participation. For example - bowling.

Pocatello's historic Tough Guy Lanes has been a fixture of the community for more than 60 years. Right now, its future is uncertain.

With the world facing a new opponent (COVID-19), the business is trying to stay rolling. 

Tough Guy's lanes have been closed for more than four weeks now, the longest stretch in the alley's history, according to owner Patrick Luras.

"In our business, we go from September to April. We gain all this money and then most people don’t bowl in the summer, so you lose money in the summer," he said. "We were fortunate to have money in the bank, just so we’re not really struggling bad. But it’s going fast."

Luras has owned the alley since 2007. He said it's currently hard to fund the payroll for the five full-time workers he still has, even after laying off nearly 25 employees. 

"I was almost in tears to do that," Luras said.

Without bowlers, the alley has turned to it's cafe, "Kegler's Corner."

"The cafe is making us the most and it’s not a lot," Luras said. "It doesn’t even pay payroll, it’s just something better than nothing."

Award-winning wings, a corner specialty, have been a bit of saving grace in the meantime. 

"We have voted the best wings in town for the last four years and that’s the only thing that’s giving us a little money right now," Luras explained.  

As tough as time may be at the lanes, Luras believes they’ll make it through the pandemic. He hopes that they’ll be able to reopen, with safety precautions, when the state's stay-home order is lifted.

Without customer traffic, the alley is doing some cleaning and rearranging they normally wouldn’t be able to. 

"It’s nice to get some of the stuff done, even though we’re kind of scared to spend a lot of money, we can still do some of the stuff and not spend near as much," Luras said.

Eager to reopen, Luras said he hopes the community will come and support the alley during the slower summer months. 

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