Father and son are new owners of Medina Lanes

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 September 2021 at 8:32 am

Jim and Chris Foss have been mainstays at the bowling alley for decades

Photos by Tom Rivers: Jim Foss and his son Chris became the owners of Medina Lanes last month. They credited the previous owners – Dr. David Stahl, Gerry Allen and Chris Bacon – for a series of improvements at the 20-lane bowling alley on Maple Ridge Road.

MEDINA – There are new owners of Medina Lanes, and the father and son team aren’t strangers to Medina.

Jim Foss, co-owner and manager, has worked at the site for about 40 years. His son Chris also has been a frequent face at the bowling alley, since he was a young kid.

The Fosses purchased the 20-lane alley last month from Dr. David Stahl, Gerry Allen and Chris Bacon. They owned it for 12 years and made many upgrades to the site, including adding synthetic lanes.

Stahl posted on the Medina Lanes Facebook page that the bowling alley is in good hands with Jim Foss as co-owner and running the day-to-day operations.

“We have been looking for the right person to carry on the improvements we have made,” Stahl said. “Jimmy has been a dedicated and excellent employee for many years. We all agreed he is the right fit for the lanes. You all have supported us for the past 12 years and we hope you will continue to do so for Jimmy. Thanks again for your unwavering loyalty  while we made improvements to the lanes.”

Foss, 59, has been working for bowling centers for more than 40 years, starting with the former Ranallo’s on Main Street in Medina. His first job was cleaning tables and the bowling balls. Then he was a “pin chaser,” working in the back. He worked his way up to head mechanic and he often helps other bowling alleys in the region with a malfunction.

He also is a people-person who enjoys bantering with customers and employees. He and his son want to welcome a new generation of bowlers through a youth league on Saturday mornings, and also encourage other adults to give it a try.

Jim Foss is shown on a busy Wednesday league night at Medina Lanes. Foss has worked at the bowling alley for 40 years. The league nights on Wednesdays and Thursdays have about 100 bowlers and they are spread out at tables near the lanes.

Bowling as a pastime was declining about 15 years ago in the region, but the Fosses say it has picked back up with people looking for an inexpensive way to get together and have fun, and also have some friendly competition.

Medina Lanes has seven employees who not only run the bowling center, but serve food – pizza, chicken wings and fish fries. There is also a bar. Some of the customers come in just for food, and to be part of an energetic atmosphere.

Chris Foss, 35, said Medina Lanes is looking to bring back live bands to add to the entertainment on Saturday nights.

Chris has worked full-time the past 10 years as a production worker for BMP America. He is grateful to also have the chance to run Medina lanes alongside his father.

“It’s something we can do together and it’s something we love,” Chris said. “We’ve always been here. We’ve been here our whole lives. We just want to keep it going.”

Jim said the lanes have come a long way in 40 years – from synthetic lanes to automatic computerized scoring. But the core remains the same as a timeless activity spanning generations – rolling a ball down a narrow path, trying to avoid the gutter to knock down pins.

Medina Lanes proudly displays the names of bowlers who have topped 800 in a three-game set. The wall of fame includes Jim Foss and his nephew Curtis.

Jim is also one of the best local bowler, currently carrying a 225 average per game. In his mid-40s, he was at his peak, averaging over 230. Chris is currently carrying a 212 average.

Jim remembers the former Ranallo’s, when owner Frank Ranallo tried to take some of the sting out of a gutter bowl. He put irrigation pipe in the gutter when kids were bowling, an original bumper to help kids gain confidence and avoid the gutter.

Medina Lanes offers the youth leagues and welcomes coaches to help give kids’ pointers on how to hold and let go of the ball.

Medina Lanes continues to be a popular spot for kids’ birthday parties, which includes a package of bowling, pizza and pop – $50 for a group of six.

Medina Lanes will soon be kicking off its senior league on Thursday afternoons starting Oct. 6, and also runs a league for women on Wednesday mornings.

The place can get busy with a full parking lot at times. Jim Foss said he likes to see people having fun.

“This is something I’ve always wanted to do,” he said. “I just like the atmosphere. You’re always meeting new people.”