Kailua’s Pali Lanes Bowling Alley Temporarily Spared from Demolition

Kailua landowner slows its roll on Pali Lanes demolition proposal.
Spared Pali Lanes Bowling
Pali youth bowler Gia Kalaiwaa.
​Photos: Leah Friel

Spared Pali Lanes Ione Conceicao Gumpfer
ione conceicao gumpfer

When Pali Lanes opened in Kailua on Saturday, May 20, 1961, Ione Conceicao Gumpfer was in the crowd. “I met my husband here,” she says.


She’s 71 now. And she’s still spending time at Pali Lanes, cheering on 12-year-old grandson Vaden-Kai. Gumpfer sees the bowling alley as one of the last places families of all ages can team up for an activity that’s fun, safe and reasonably priced. She’s hoping that younger generations can keep up the tradition.


Landowner Alexander & Baldwin proposed demolishing the aging bowling alley in early 2019 to make way for “a gathering place” that could host community concerts and farmers markets. But the company now says it needs to talk more with the community before making a final decision.


The complex opened at a cost of $1 million, designed by Wimberly & Cook Architects, with fanfare over its Puna lava slabs, state-of-the art equipment and opening day giveaways that included bowling gear, a Neighbor Island trip, perfume and cigarettes. Special guests included Gov. William Quinn, Mayor Neal Blaisdell and Island icon Duke Kahanamoku.


Spared Pali Lanes BowlingLongtime residents have sadly watched a lot of small-town Windward favorites shut down over the past several decades: Andy’s Drive-in, Craig’s Bakery, walk-in and drive-in theaters, and recently Agnes’ Portuguese Bake Shop. 


“This is the last of old Kailua to go,” says bowler Marvis Smith. “If Pali Lanes goes, then the whole thing is gone; there goes the aloha spirit.”


Longtime champion bowler Art Machado is one of three investors who jumped in to reopen the center after it closed once before in 2010. He says bowlers from ages 3 to 97 keep the lanes busy.


Seventeen-year-old Christian Arakawa, president of Pali Youth Junior Bowlers, helped gather an estimated 6,000 signatures on a petition, with the help of social media, and sees support growing. “Over 150 people attended the Kailua Neighborhood Board [meeting] to speak up about saving Pali Lanes,” Arakawa says.


Sapred Pali Lanes Bowling Christian Arakawa Spared Pali Lanes Bowling Shoes


Darren Pai, A&B spokesman, says the company is listening: “We need to continue to do more engagement in the community and we’re committed to doing that before we continue with future plans.” Back in December of 2017, Pai said the company signed an extension of the lease to run through the end of January 2019. He says it includes four months of free rent.


In 2013, A&B paid $373 million to Kāne‘ohe Ranch and the Harold K.L. Castle Foundation for 50 acres of commercial property, mostly in Kailua town, and 76 acres of agriculture-zoned land and 509 acres of preservation-zoned land. 

  Spared Pali Lanes Bowling


“This is a long-term investment in the community,” Pai says. “For us, it’s about building relationships that are going to last a long time.”