NEW OWNER, IDENTITY FOR ‘DEER HUNTER’ ALLEY

It may have a new name and a few new amenities, but State Street Bowling and Billiards in Struthers, Ohio, will always be a bowling alley — embodying everything good that phrase entails.

Originally known as Bowladrome Lanes, the alley opened in 1946, and had been run for most of its history by Thomas and Marge Janosik. It was a classic “ma-and-pa” facility, a place where the owners knew the name of all their customers.

But what differentiated Bowladrome from all other bowling alleys was something that happened not quite 40 years ago, in July of 1977. That’s when a film crew took over the alley and shot scenes for “The Deer Hunter” — a movie that later would be ranked the 53rd greatest of all time by the American Film Institute.

The couple got to meet the film’s star, Robert De Niro, during filming. Meryl Streep bowled on lanes 3-4. Marge Janosik even had a speaking part, giving a drink to De Niro’s character and saying, “Michael, it’s on the house.”

In succeeding years, countless tourists visited the center just to see one of the places where “The Deer Hunter” was filmed. “It was nice that the business was brought here,” Marge told The Vindicator in a 2014 story.

That’s the year the Janosiks decided to retire, and put the center up for sale. The closing of local steel mills had finally taken their toll on the business, robbing it of its once-dependable league-bowler base.

Even then, Marge was upbeat — which probably had something to do with being 70 years old. “It has been a fun time,” she said.

Now, Dallas Bigley is hoping to bring the fun times back to the venerable downtown Struthers business. The neighborhood had lost the South Bridge Billiards hall, so he decided to take out a few lanes and add billiard tables to the rechristened State Street Billiards and Bowling.

The challenge was to incorporate a modern vibe without totally abandoning Bowladrome’s heritage. So, black-and-white photos of Bowladrome have been hung on the walls, and dining tables are made, in part, from the original wood lanes.

To attract younger generations, the bar has been updated, and new televisions, along with sound and lighting equipment, have been installed. There’s also an arcade. And plans are in the works to add live music, as well as an outdoor patio.

“I’m hoping to take downtown Struthers a little further into more of an entertainment district and bring more business down here,” Bigley told The Vindicator. “I hope this contributes to that.”

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