All Play Family Entertainment Center, Belfast’s eight-lane candlepin bowling alley, changed hands Sept. 1, with new management offering extended hours and a new takeout window.

Current owner Don Benson told The Republican Journal Aug. 31 he will be 65 in January, and was looking for an exit plan, but was hoping the facility could remain as an entertainment hub.

He and wife Kelly will be sad to let the business go, he said, having poured their “heart and soul” into the bowling alley, but added, ”After 100 to 110 hours a week, seven days a week, this gets old fast.”

As of Sept. 1, Paul and Lynne Dyer will lease the bowling alley and have an option to buy the facility down the line. Benson said Paul has worked at All Play for about 3 1/2 years and ran the facility part-time.

Benson purchased the old Jed’s Restaurant in 2014, and said he spent around $800,000 transforming the former diner into a family-friendly bowling alley with an arcade. In January, the Bensons sold the other bowling alley they owned in Waldoboro, also called All Play, to an eight-year employee.

Paul Dyer said his family has always been into bowling and he remembers playing as a youth at an alley behind MacLeod Furniture called U-Ota-Bowl.

At the official soft opening of the alley with Dyer at the helm Sept. 1, his father, Lewis Jr., who was helping out at the lanes, said, “I threw the last bowling ball” at that alley. “They closed about 30 years ago,” he added. After U-Ota-Bowl closed, the younger Dyer said, they would go to the Bucksport Bowling Center to play.

“Until this place opened,” he said. “I’ve been here since it opened.”

Previously Dyer worked at Waldo County General Hospital for 13 years in transport and as a nursing assistant. Wife Lynne, who runs the kitchen at the bowling alley, still works at the hospital full-time and will be splitting her time between the two.

Lynne said the kitchen is adding meatball subs and chicken salad to the menu after consulting customers, “to keep them happy.” Next Saturday, she said, the alley will host its first birthday party in the function room. Because of COVID-19, the facility can only have one party at a time to allow for cleaning and is restricted to 50 people in the entire facility. Lynne said staffers are also wearing face shields, have hand-sanitizing stations and will adhere to social distancing protocols.

Paul said opening a business during the pandemic is “a little nerve-wracking,” adding that the next few months will be trying for sure.

Besides expanding hours of operation to seven days a week, the biggest change will be the introduction of a takeout window, he said, which he hopes will be operating by October. People will be able to place an order at the takeout window and have their meal delivered to their vehicle.

Currently the kitchen is offering curbside pickup, where orders can be placed by phone and delivered to customers' cars. “People won’t have to worry about coming in,” Lynne said.

All Play, located at 49 Searsport Ave. (Route 1), offers league bowling on Monday and Tuesday, as well as a pool league on Wednesday, and a kids' bowling league on Saturday starting Sept. 19. The venue also features a snack bar with fried seafood, sandwiches, burgers, pizza, and beer and wine.

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