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September 03, 2013 7:49 am

New Classic Lanes owner to reopen bowling alley

Written by Tom Lawrence

Nate and Hilary Cook aren’t avid bowlers, but they feel a family-friendly atmosphere and good food will make Classic Lanes a successful business once more. Nate and Hilary Cook aren’t avid bowlers, but they feel a family-friendly atmosphere and good food will make Classic Lanes a successful business once more. Tribune photo by Tom Lawrence

Nate Cook hopes bowlers return, and he has other plans for business, too

Nate Cook isn’t a regular bowler, but he sees a lot of potential in Classic Lanes, which he plans to reopen in the next few months.

Cook is concluding the purchase of the building from owner Mick Walker, who closed the longtime local business earlier this year due to ongoing health issues.

“It would be fantastic if it was open by January 1st, but we will have to see,” Cook said Thursday. “The title work should be completed (this) week.”

This will mark the third local business that Cook owns, which makes him one ambitious young entrepreneur.

“Or crazy, one of the two,” he said with a wide smile.

Cook, 35, also operates Positive Progressions, a mental health agency with offices in Powell and Cody that employs six therapists who provide services for people of all ages, and Northern, Inc., which works with “folks with developmental disabilities and acquired brain injuries,” he said.

He said the new business will work well with his existing firms.

“Because I am a licensed clinical social worker, I do a lot of therapy for boys, and I think this will be a great avenue for them,” Cook said. “I’ve been thinking about a bowling alley for a couple years, to be honest with you.”

He said Classic Lanes may employ some of his clients and help them integrate into the community, teach them skills and offer a helping hand up.

“That could hopefully transition into them getting jobs out into the community,” Cook said. “I’d also like to get a league going for those with development disabilities and their families, where they can reunite with others and have a good time.”

He said he hopes to offer other social activities for those with developmental disabilities, such as dances and additional activities at the bowling alley.

In addition, Cook said he’s counting on the many local bowlers who enjoyed Classic Lanes to return once it reopens.

“I’m really hoping that those who participated in the past will be excited and ready to take part once we get it open,” he said. “A lot of people in the community want to come in and volunteer and get it up and running.”

He plans to employ a manager and have four or five employees. Some will be people who used to work at the bowling alley.

The alley will be open Monday through Saturday, with the hours still to be determined. Cook said he does plan to be open fairly late, perhaps until midnight, and will provide a place where people can get “a burger and shake after 9 o’clock.”

The business will not offer beer or liquor and no smoking will be allowed. While there is a stereotype of bowlers with a beer in one hand and a smoke in the other, Cook said he doubts that his family-friendly plan will keep most people away.

“I hope not. I hope that those who truly enjoy bowling will come and participate in that,” he said. “I want to be an establishment, if someone’s looking for a good burger or sandwich, at lunch or afterward, it’s a place they can come to and not smell like they have been to a bowling alley.”

Cook said he will offer “disco bowling” or “midnight bowling,” with strobe lights and a party atmosphere, and hopes Northwest College students become regulars. It will be a fun place for a date, where people can play a game and get a bite to eat.

The center’s eight lanes are being checked and an out-of-state bowling equipment and scoring machine specialist will provide a tune-up to ensure everything is in tip-top shape, Cook said.

Meanwhile, he’s working nights and weekends to remodel Classic Lanes and get it ready for business. He has also come up with an innovative idea to try to get the alley open as soon as possible.

“What I’m trying to do, because I don’t have a lot of capital to put into it, I’ve approached a lot of businesses to see if they would donate services,” Cook said.

For their assistance, he will provide free advertising at Classic Lanes. So far, Smooth Edge Custom Cabinets and Kleen Kare have taken him up on the concept, and he said other companies may do so.

Cook said while he and his family like to bowl, they do so a few times a year at most. So why is he investing his time, energy and money into a bowling alley?

“The reason I do that is, I love the community of Powell,” he said. “I want to give back.”

He grew up in Jerome, Idaho, a small farming community, and moved to Powell in October 2006 in part because it reminded him of the friendly, family atmosphere of his hometown. He and his wife Hilary have four kids.

“My wife has been extremely supportive of all the things I do,” Cook said. “She had been very supportive.”

His father was a real estate agent, but he decided he wanted to do something else with his life, and became a licensed clinical social worker after he earned master’s degree in social work from the University of Utah.

“I kind of happened into it and it’s been a blessing in my life,” Cook said.

In addition to his three businesses, Cook coaches the Powell High School freshmen boys’ basketball team and referees football. Sports has always been a big part of his life, he said.

“I just hope people would be patient and when we get it up, I hope they come in and enjoy it again,” Cook said. “Mick did a good job over I don’t know how many years, and I hope they come back and enjoy bowling in Powell.”

3 comments

  • Comment Link September 05, 2013 1:35 pm posted by Gene Cook

    I hope the bowling alley is a big success for Powell

  • Comment Link September 12, 2013 11:39 pm posted by Marsha Wilkinson

    I am very excited to have a nice place to go bowling and grab a bite to eat after nine p.m.!

  • Comment Link September 13, 2013 4:03 pm posted by Laura Lower

    Looking forward to your opening!

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