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Spare Time at Star Lanes


If your idea of a classic movie is "Five Easy Pieces," then Hollywood Star Lanes is probably your idea of a good time.

Cool Karen Black and Jack Nicholson types mingle with people who could be their parents.

"My father and I started it, but now it's just me," says Sam Barnese. "I'm here every day from early afternoon on, although I don't stay until 3 or 4 a.m. like I used to."

Hollywood Star Lanes is open around the clock.

Popular both with young hipsters and the wash-and-set crowd, Star Lanes has been in the hands of the Barnese family for 35 years.

Little has changed here since 1960, including the prices, and the place still looks more or less like the dashboard of a 1968 Cadillac.

"There aren't any computers, nothing new," says longtime employee Dick White. "This is one of the cheaper alleys to bowl in because of that, probably the cheapest in the Southland. You get some pretty nice people because they've been coming into this darned place for so many years."

"It's kind of a melting pot," Barnese adds. "We really have a very nice crowd. They come here to bowl; they don't come here to horse around."

And does the place fill up with scenesters after the bars close?

"Not really," Barnese says. "What we do get is a lot of people who work in night clubs and hotels and restaurants. You know, when you get off work, you don't go home and go to bed and they don't want to either. We're one of the few things that are open and fun and available."

Novices might take advantage of the "Practice Special" every Tuesday night from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m., when you can bowl three games for the princely sum of $5.

Week nights, the leagues are active and casual bowlers might experience a wait from 6 to 9 p.m.

If you do have to wait, there are a pinball arcade, a cocktail lounge, and a coffee shop that serves 1960s family fare.

A plate of shrimp chow mein will set you back $4, a ham and cheese is $3.50.

Wash it all down with a 50-cent cup of Sanka. (Remember "Marcus Welby, M.D."?)

Oh, and of course there's beer.

If you can stand the nostalgic aura of stale Virginia Slims, the best thing to do is carry your food out to the tables overlooking the lanes.

The wee hours bring out a whole new demographic.

"On the weekend it's mostly pot bowlers," says White, referring to the practice of betting on games.

"You walk in here on a Friday night at 4 a.m. and you'll have 20 bowlers bowling for money."


Where: Hollywood Star Lanes, 5227 Santa Monica Blvd. (between Western and Normandie); (213) 665-4111.

When: Open 24 hours for bowling. 21 and over after 8 p.m. The bar opens at 5 p.m. weeknights, noon on weekends.

Cost: $2 per game. $1.60 per game before 5 p.m. Beer, $2; chili dog, $2; beef bowl, $3.95.

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