Garden Center Lanes, Fat Daddy’s Bar & Grill and Broadway Ballroom Event Center each offer something unique to Alexandria and the lakes area. They offer year-round entertainment and dining, and can host events for groups big and small. They each offer something different, but there is one big thing they all share.

“We want our customers to be treated well and to have a good time,” said Alicia Meyer, events and catering manager for all three.  “We always hope for that repeat business, whether it be kids, adults or groups.”

The three businesses, located at 115 30th Ave. East in Alexandria, are owned and operated by Charlie Meyer, Susan (Meyer) Brede, Chad Meyer and Matt Meyer, all of Alexandria. Charlie and Susan are brother/sister, and Chad and Matt are Charlie’s sons.

“And these are managing owners,” said Alicia, “so you will normally see them working when you come in the door.”

Garden Center Lanes

Garden Center Lanes has been in the Meyer family since 1957. The 34-lane bowling alley is handicap accessible, has a new arcade, a pro shop and is open 365 days a year. Video still by AMS Digital Productions

Garden Center Lanes opened at 5th Avenue and Hawthorne in Alexandria in 1939 with eight lanes of bowling and a small restaurant/banquet area. In 1957, Leroy Meyer purchased the business, and it has been in the Meyer family ever since, spanning three generations. In his first 30 years with the business, Leroy and his family were able to expand Garden Center Lanes from an eight-lane bowling alley to 32 lanes.

“When my mom and dad took it over, there was a balcony over the lanes, and the front side of the building was an ACS office,” Charlie remembered. “It had been added on several times. It was getting to be a maintenance nightmare.”

The old Garden Center Lanes served the family well for many years. But growing the business was getting harder. The banquet area, the bar/restaurant and the bowling alley all had their limitations. It was time for a change.

“There was only so much we could do with it,” said Charlie. “It was built on a fallout shelter and that made each project very difficult. We had steps all over and an elevator going to the banquet in the basement which wasn’t ideal.”

In 2005, the ownership team designed and built a new bowling alley, bar, restaurant and ballroom on the corner of 30th Avenue and South Broadway. The new facility opened to big crowds and quickly became a regional hotspot.

“We were able to have all three areas of the business laid out like we want them,” said Charlie. “I have been in hundreds of bowling alleys, and the great thing about this one is we were able to take care of all the ills that we had in the old one. We have room for everyone. There are no steps at all. We have adaptive people who come from all over the region. So many bowling alleys were built like an auditorium, with steps down to the bowling part. We took out the steps so it is easier for everyone.”

The new facility also drew more tournaments.

“We will host the Men’s Minnesota State Tournament this year,” said Charlie. “Last year, we hosted the Women’s State Tournament. Those are tournaments we didn’t host in the old Garden Center.”

Garden Center Lanes offers open bowling every day of the year. It is open for school groups or other large groups, private parties, tournaments and leagues.

“We have bowling leagues from September to April,” said Alicia. “The leagues are on Monday through Thursday in the morning, afternoon and evening.”

Garden Center Lanes is also a popular destination for kids’ birthday parties. They offer a packages with bowling, pizza, pop or beer, along with cards for the arcade.

Bergie’s Pro Shop, located at Garden Center Lanes, offers bowling balls, shoes, towels and more. The pro shop is named after Roy Bergquist, who served as the maintenance man for nearly 50 years at the old Garden Center Lanes.

“When you buy a bowling ball, you get a fitting, drilling and practice all included in the purchase,” said Alicia.

Next to Garden Center Lanes is a state-of-the-art arcade with some of the newest arcade games. A new card kiosk and redemption system was added last year.

The bowling alley is home to the Alexandria Schools bowling team, which placed second at state in the Minnesota State High School League tournament. It also has an after school learning program, and it offers yearly scholarships to youth bowlers through the Youth Bowling Association.

“The beauty of bowling is it is a lifetime activity,” said Charlie. “Kids can bowl, and people in their 80s and 90s can bowl. We have ramps, and the whole facility is wheelchair accessible, so just about anyone can play. And you don’t have to be 6-feet 5-inches, 240 pounds to be a good bowler. Anyone can be good or great with practice.”

“And it is a great social outlet for people,” said Alicia. “It is a great place to meet new people in the community and network.”

If you want to learn how to bowl, or you want to become a good or great bowler, the team at Garden Center Lanes is happy to help make that happen.

“We can really take you from being a novice to one of the best,” said Charlie. “We have the knowledge and the equipment to get you there.”

For those who want to become more serious about their game, or just want to stay active, Garden Center Lanes offers memberships. For a monthly rate, you can bowl as many games as you like. It is similar to a golf membership, and makes the most sense financially if a person wants to bowl more than just a few times a year.

Broadway Ballroom Event Center

Broadway Ballroom can host banquets, weddings and other events. Video still by AMS Digital Productions

Broadway Ballroom Event Center is an event center with the capability to host meetings, parties, rehearsals, private dinners and other events. It has a stationary bar, a built-in projector and a microphone system.

“We have regular service groups who meet once a week all year long, such as Sertoma, BNI, Lions Clubs, and Rotary,” said Alicia. “Some groups meet here monthly, such as the Unity Foundation and Lakes Area Professional Women. We also have a number of annual fundraising events, business meetings and banquets throughout the year.”

Groups can use the entire ballroom, which can seat up to 500 people, or it can be divided into smaller spaces to better accommodate smaller groups. There is a stationary bar that is available.

Broadway Ballroom is a popular place for weddings, ceremonies and receptions. Alicia meets with each couple to help them plan the perfect event.

“I am very honest to my clients,” she said. “Couples will get a guided informational tour to see what we have to offer. We offer upfront pricing and rental options. We pride ourselves on no hidden fees. We can assist in planning the layout, the timeline and every detail. I like to be very thorough, so the ballroom is ready to go when they walk in on their wedding day.”

Full catering services are available to all events in the ballroom, plus a few extras.

“We provide catering services, decorations, tables and chairs. Couples can get it all right here,” said Alicia. “In addition, we have the Hampton Inn and Suites right next door, which offers 80 guest suites. They are the newest hotel in town.”

Fat Daddy’s Bar & Grill

Fat Daddy’s Bar & Grill is a great place to gather with good food, plenty of drink options and large TVs. They offer an American-style menu and have 29 beers on tap. Video still by AMS Digital Productions

Fat Daddy’s Bar & Grill is a full-service bar and grill that can seat up to 200 people. It has 17 TVs, including two of the biggest TV screens in town (each over 150 inches), which is perfect for both avid and casual sports fans.

“We have an American-style menu,” said Alicia. “We have appetizers, burgers, sandwiches and more. Our signature burger, the Fat Daddy Burger, is a one-pound burger.”

Fat Daddy’s has 29 beers on tap and offers a soup and salad bar Monday-Friday. They also have lunch specials each day of the week and a Sunday brunch from 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

On Friday and Saturday evenings from 10 p.m.- 2 a.m., a DJ performs and a dance floor fills in at Fat Daddy’s. It also has arcade games, a jukebox and other games, including pool and darts. An outdoor volleyball court is located just outside the bar and is used throughout the summer.

Fat Daddy’s is open Sunday-Wednesday 11 a.m-1 a.m, and Thursday-Saturday 11 a.m.-2 a.m.  

To learn more about Garden Center Lanes, Broadway Ballroom or Fat Daddy’s, visit www.gardencenterlanes.com, or call 320-763-6565. For information on Broadway Ballroom, email Alicia at alicia.meyer@broadway-ballroom.com. For more information on Fat Daddy’s or Garden Center Lanes, email Chad at chadm@gardencenterlanes.com.