LIMA — When the COVID-19 pandemic handed Andy and Wes Johnston lemons, the owners of Lima’s Westgate Lanes decided to turn them into lemonade… or maybe some drinks slightly stronger.
The pandemic largely kept people in their homes and away from friends, which is not a great business model for a business that relies on customers coming through the front door. Left with time on their hands as the pandemic ran its course, the owners began to implement changes at the bowling alley that had been on the back burner for a few years.
The center had added a small arcade to its site some 10 years ago, “but when COVID hit, we removed six (bowling) lanes and added bumper cars, a virtual interactive climbing wall and several Hologate Virtual Reality games,” Andy Johnston said.
The brothers had seen several of these attractions at an entertainment trade show in Orlando, Florida, and saw them as an opportunity to provide more attractions to draw in customers.
“We now have a total of 40 arcade games,” Johnston said. “And in a couple of weeks, we’re going to roll out the Ghostbuster VR game, which is popular with all age groups.”
Nearly a year ago, Westgate opted to appeal to a different demographic — the 18- to 45-year-old crowd — through the addition of Back Alley Axe, an axe-throwing game that had been rapidly sweeping the nation.
“That has been drawing nice crowds on the weekends,” Johnston said. “It’s something a little different.”
Reservations are suggested for the axe-throwing sessions by booking online at westgateentertainmentcenter.com. Flat, closed-toe shoes are required.
Johnston said Westgate is attempting to offer as many entertainment options as possible at its Cable Road site. Once known primarily for bowling and serving up mouth-watering pizza, the establishment has grown to offer much more.
“In the post-COVID world, I think people just want to get out and have fun. They want to socialize and spend time with family and friends,” he said.
Caught in the Crosshairs
Closer to downtown Lima, there’s a different type of attraction drawing adventure-seekers.
Crosshairs Lima, owned by Eddie and Sandy Monfort, is in its eighth year of providing paintball and related activities for kids and adults alike.
Located at 535 W. Spring St., the venue offers traditional paintball for those age 10 and older. A less powerful “Gotcha Gun” game, with spring-loaded guns instead of high-powered air versions, is available for players as young as 8.
“And the new craze for the younger crowd is the Gel Blaster,” Eddie Monfort said. In that game, water-filled orbs are fired at an even lower velocity.
“My 7-year-old grandson loves that game,” Monfort said. “There’s also Nerf guns for the younger players.”
Crosshairs Lima has gained a reputation as a hot spot for paintball tournaments.
“We have tournaments once a month, and we’ll get teams from Florida, West Virginia, Illinois … all over. We’re one of the few indoor paintball courses around.”
Crosshairs is open from 1 to 9 p.m. Saturdays (closed from 4-5 p.m. for field maintenance and staff breaks) and from noon to 4 p.m. Sundays. Walk-ins are always welcome.
The site is also available for rental for birthday parties and group activities.
“We’ve been pretty well received,” Monfort said. “The community has been very welcoming to us, and we’ve tried to keep our prices pretty stable.”
For rates and other information visit crosshairslima.com.