It’s cold outside, but Gravel Pit Lanes is heating up for a busy season with its weekly Monte Carlo, Moab Style! bowling competitions.
“We’re kind of the opposite,” said the owner of the bowling alley, Erik Hansen, referring to the seasonal patterns of other Moab businesses. “It’s busier in the winter than it is in the summer.”
Every Friday evening at 7 p.m., the alley hosts a Monte Carlo bowling competition where participants play to earn cash prizes. Hansen said playing Monte Carlo is simple, but can sound complicated to inexperienced players. Three white bowling pins are replaced with a blue, red and yellow pin to create random patterns. The cost of participating is $20, and the event typically lasts two to three hours.
Gravel Pit Lanes adds a twist to these events by hosting other, smaller competitions between the Monte Carlo rounds that require each bowler to throw the ball in between their legs or behind their backs, just to make things interesting.
Though the events are hosted weekly throughout the year, it’s especially well-attended by locals in the winter.
“When it’s tourist season, there are a lot of tourists,” Hansen said. “There aren’t a lot of locals because they’re servicing all the tourists.”
That begins to change, though, starting in December.
The bowling alley’s bartender, Becca Stewart, said that during the winter competitions, “a lot of people who work here that aren’t working that night will participate, and other than that it’s mostly locals. … I think that a huge part of this place is catering to locals.”
Stewart believes the bowling alley provides the perfect space for residents to spend time with each other.
“People enjoy it,” she said. “It’s good for bonding and people get a kick out of it.”
Stewart works mainly in the alley’s Sports Bar, one of the unique aspects of Gravel Pit Lanes, according to Hansen.
“We’re …. dedicated to sports,” he said. “We have 14 TVs with all the sports packages — none of the other bars do that.”
The Gravel Pit Lanes Sports Bar is open during the same hours as the bowling alley and hosts its own events throughout the winter, including live showings of UFC fights. The bar featured Holloway versus Ortega and Chevchenko versus Joanna on Dec. 8, and will show Jones versus Gustafsson and Cyborg versus Nunes on Dec. 29. Viewing the mixed martial arts fights is $10 at the door.
While the Sports Bar caters to sports fan of all types, during the Monte Carlo nights, the focus is on bowling.
“We usually have 10 to 15 people, the serious bowlers,” Hansen said of the weekly competitions.
The competition can be steep, but regular bowler Ken Windsor maintains anyone interested should try it out.
“There’s room for a lot of people to come in,” Windsor said of the Monte Carlo. “It’s a lot of good people. If you want to learn to bowl they’ll teach you.”
Windsor attends the Monte Carlo, Moab Style! almost every week.
“It’s a little competitive because we’re all trying to win some money, but it’s really just for fun,” he said.
It isn’t only about the competition for Windsor.
“Here, it’s a really good group,” he said. “There are some of the people in leagues and two weeks ago a lot of the police force was here, so you can meet a lot of people, too.”
As to the cost of the event, Windsor said, “It’s 20 bucks to get in, but you can make that back easy. About three weeks ago, between the three of us, we made $87. So it paid for itself and the drinks.”
Between the friendly, down-to-earth atmosphere and the ability to win money back, Gravel Pit Lanes’ Monte Carlo, Moab Style! competitions offer an opportunity to stave off the winter slump.
This month’s competitions are taking place on Dec. 14, 21, and 28, from 7 to 10 p.m.
“It’s a lot of good people. If you want to learn to bowl they’ll teach you.”
Socialize and earn cash prizes at Gravel Pit Lanes
What: Monte Carlo, Moab Style!
When: Every Friday from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Where: Gravel Pit Lanes, 1078 Mill Creek Dr.
Cost: $20; No advance registration is required