Update (6:30 p.m. Wednesday): AMF Maple Lanes manager Dave Langer confirmed that the bowling alley will close permanently after its last day of operation on Aug. 12, 2012.
Original post (12:43 p.m. Wednesday): The , a fixture on Highway 65 in Fridley for decades, will close on Aug. 12, according to an employee. Chris Martinson said workers learned of the closure and the loss of their jobs on Tuesday.
No one at AMF's corporate headquarters in Mechanicsville, VA was immediately available from comment Wednesday.
"We're all a little in shock," Martinson said. "Losing your job is never a good thing. But it's more of an iconic thing. A lot of regulars that have been coming in here for years, they are just floored."
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The reasons for the closing as he understands them, he said, are the business' bottom line and the slumping economy.
"We did make a number of improvements" recently, Martinson said. "We thought they would give us a chance" to at least break even, if not show a profit.
Two weeks' notice is more than the company gave at the AMF City Limits in Rosemount, MN when it closed in July, according to Sun ThisWeek, which cited four other closures in the bowling-alley chain over the last several months.
Another bowling alley, not owned by AMF, closed in Columbia Heights recently.
People at the AMF corporate office "are being very, very gracious, very upfront about everything," Martinson said, adding that employees receive severance packages and promises from the company to help find any available positions at the remaining four AMF locations in the Twin Cities.
One thing that didn't help, in Martinson's view: "We're just a bowling alley. There's not a game room. We strictly rely on our bowling alley. That's kind of our downfall."
The bowling alley has been there 60 years under three owners, Martinson said. "It's going to have an effect on the community [of bowlers]. They're going to lose bowlers who don't want to drive."
, travels from Crystal to bowl there. In May, he won $25,000 at the AMF National In-League Tournament in Las Vegas, where he placed second in Division A.
Martinson worked in the pro shop for two years before taking a job at the bowling alley about a year ago. A longtime Fridley resident, he said he has been bowling there since he was 10 years old and his family lived two-and-a-half blocks away—a time when the center did have a game room.
The bowling alley "is near and dear to my heart," he said.