Since 1993, generations of area bowlers have gotten their shoes and games on at Cobra Lanes in Farley, with Al Heiberger as the bowling center’s owner.
Russ Kramer, a longtime employee of Heiberger’s, hopes that trend continues well into the future, as Kramer recently purchased the establishment from the man who showed him how the business and the industry works.
Kramer took over as owner June 1, with Heiberger staying on to run the pro shop and to offer guidance to Kramer as he gets the ball rolling.
“I always wanted to be a business owner,” Kramer said of his decision to purchase the business. “When I came back to work for Al full-time in 2010, that’s when I knew I wanted to own a bowling center.
A bowler since he was six, Kramer worked for Heiberger through high school from 2002-05. After a few years working construction, he came back to Cobra Lanes.
Kramer said he’s focused on maintaining the same level of success that Al and his wife, Kay, had. “I don’t think customers are going to see any changes around here except for more of me and a little less of Al.”
His short-term goals include increasing the number of open bowlers the center sees on weeknights after league bowling. His longer-term goal was an easy call. “To be as successful as Al and Kay, and to run the place like they did for 26 years,” said Kramer.
Al Heiberger said the decision to slow down a tad was the right one to make at this point in his life. “The main reason is that my grandkids are 9, 6, and 1½, and I want to see a few more of their things. Business is good and Russ is the same age I was when I bought it in ‘93.”
He was quick to thank area bowlers for all the support he’s received, saying, “We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the community. Their support has been awesome.”
Kramer is just as fast to point out that he wouldn’t be where he is without the Heibergers. “Working for Al and Kay has been easy. They’re great people. They made it so easy to come into work every day.”
Cobra Lanes is hosting a retirement party for Al this Saturday, beginning at around 2 p.m. There will be a classic car show, and music by Mark Zalaznik from 4-8 p.m.