When you opened [Mid-City Lanes Rock ‘n’ Bowl], did you ever imagine you’d be here 25 years later?
No, I was worried about being there 25 days later. My father and everyone else told me it couldn’t work. But I persevered and kept making payroll, so here I am, 25 years later.
Where did the original idea come from to merge a bowling alley with a music venue?
It evolved from the idea of catering parties. What I saw when I looked at the bowling alley after buying it in 1988 was not a bowling alley, but a great live music and catering hall that happened to also have 18 bowling lanes. When I told people I thought the place would be a good spot for wedding receptions, they looked at me like I had a third eye, because no one even thought of such a thing back then.
I was here a few months and this fellow Louis Nugent, who was the king of the Krewe of Mother Roux, came in and saw the same thing I did. He booked a party for his Mardi Gras krewe here. He hired a band called the Living Dead Review, who pulled up to the venue in a hearse, carried a coffin up the stairs, and placed it in front the stage. The coffin opened up and the singer came out and sang a bunch of old funeral-soul songs. At the end of their two-hour set, he got back in the coffin and the band put it back in the hearse and they left. That party was the first time I saw how it would work, and it worked great. We started booking more parties and then I had regular bands on Friday and Saturday nights along with zydeco every Thursday since 1993.
What is the most memorable show you’ve had there?
How many people have bowled a perfect game there?
I’ve had only one perfect game, which came when a high school bowling league was here. The kid’s name was Jeff Chigizola. But before I had automatic scoring, people would write in their scores by hand after they’d been drinking, so we had some 500-600 games.
What would you like to see happen with Rock ’n’ Bowl over the next 25 years?
I hope we can continue to maintain our business and be a conduit for local music. I want to see my grandchildren carry on and be involved with it 25 years from now.