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The search for a new location for Bowland Beacon has been underway for nearly two years in North Naples as time ticks down on the landmark bowling alley’s projected closing near the end of this summer.  

The old Beacon Bowl will close in August as plans are being finalized for its replacement: an upscale boutique hotel with top-tier restaurants and amenities. Meanwhile, expect the new HeadPinz Beacon to expand beyond its traditional model with 24 to 32 lanes.  

“We’re looking at a pretty big facility of probably a minimum 45,000 to 50,000 square feet,” said Pat Ciniello, co-owner of Bowland Beacon.  

Although a new location has yet to be found, Ciniello and his Bowling Management Associates hope to find the perfect spot to relocate in the North Naples corridor.  

“I’d love to be on Immokalee Road. I’d love to be by [Interstate 75] for visibility,” said Ciniello, who doesn’t want the new location to be too close to his HeadPinz locations in East Naples and south Fort Myers.  

“We have some restrictions on where we can be because we did sell two centers to Bowlero in Cape Coral. So, Lee County’s kind of off limits, except for we’re building FastTrax right now, but that was known before we closed on that property.”  

The team also has been looking for available spaces in other areas. “Between the two of us we’ve been looking for over a year and a half,” said Bev Larson, CCIM, the Realtor at ERA Lahaina Realty who has represented Ciniello for many years.  

The search has not been easy because the needs are narrow and specific. Ciniello isn’t interested in leasing space.  

“The issue is we’ve always owned our own land and building, and we’d like that to be the case,” Ciniello said. “I’d rather be the owner-landlord versus being a tenant.”  

Bowland Beacon in NaplesHe also prefers a freestanding building rather than an inline space in a shopping center. The leasing agent and manager of Green Tree Center is hoping Ciniello will make an exception and lease the more than 50,000-square-foot space that Sweetbay supermarket vacated years ago on the southwest corner of Immokalee Road and Airport-Pulling Road.  

“Our property is strategically located between Naples and North Naples and Fort Myers,” Jack Crifasi said. “They could come into our space, and they could be open by the end of the year or certainly the first quarter of next year, if they really pushed.”  

Crifasi said he has been contacted by at least three national entertainment complexes looking for 50,000 to 60,000 square feet for bowling, laser tag, go-karts, arcades and similar uses, including indoor pickleball courts.  

“There is a significant demand for family entertainment in Naples,” he said. “I knew there was a demand, but I didn’t know how much demand was out there.”  

Crifasi has hesitated to divide the former supermarket space.  

“We have turned down so many uses because they just did not fit our interest,” he said. “We’re not in a hurry, but we want to find the right tenant.”  

Crifasi hopes he can make a deal to keep a bowling alley and family entertainment in North Naples at a spot that has a combination of high traffic counts and nearby access to I-75.   

“They are going to find an uphill battle to find land to build on and then it’s going to take many years. I don’t know where they’re going to find it,” he said. “I don’t know of any property in Naples that could fit what they are looking for.”  

Bowland Beacon in Naples

Rolling along  

The Beacon Bowl owner realizes that a new bowling center is not going to happen overnight in Collier County.  

“If you have a box, of course, it can go faster,” Ciniello said. “If you have the land, building and everything else, you have to get the architectural plans. You have to have civil engineering. You have to have structural. You have to have architectural designs. It’s going to take anywhere from 18 to 24 months. It could be shorter with an existing building.”  

The Bowland team has not given up hope of finding the perfect spot. As word gets out, more opportunities are flowing their way. “We do have bowlers come up, ‘Hey, what about this place? What about that place?’” Ciniello said. “Anybody that’s out there, you know, they’re looking for us if something pops up.”  

Until a new North Naples location opens, the majority of Beacon’s staff will be able to find positions at the existing HeadPinz locations or the new FastTrax center under construction in south Fort Myers and expected to open around the end of the year.  

“We have a lot of employees that live in different parts of the area. Some of them live in Bonita, San Carlos, Lehigh and Fort Myers, so they’re traveling down quite a bit. So, we’re looking at people, where they live and basically finding homes for them in the three locations that we have.”  

“This is our 45th year in the market. We intend to continue. My son is very interested in even growing the business with the HeadPinz and the FastTrax models. I just have to slow him down a bit. We have to get one built before we do another one.”  

Bowland Beacon also is working to eventually relocate its weekly bowling leagues to the HeadPinz sister locations.  

“Our lease ends on Aug. 31, but we’re going to run the leagues through Aug. 15,” Ciniello said. “The 17th will be the last day of business. We’ll have a big party on the 17th for those people who want to come and say goodbye.”  

Anatomy of a deal  

Last fall, the 2.6-acre Bowland Beacon property at 5400 Trail Blvd. was acquired for $8 million along with the adjacent half-acre property with St. Francis Animal Clinic for $4.3 million by local entrepreneur Phil McCabe and his family’s Naples-based Gulf Coast Commercial Corp with plans to build an independently owned and operated 70-suite boutique hotel. The redevelopment project is targeted to begin shortly after the bowling alley’s lease ends Aug. 31.    

The McCabes bought the land but not the bowling alley business. Ciniello refutes reports that he approached McCabe with a proposal to sell the bowling center. “We kept on saying no, no, no, no, every time someone would come up that was interested,” he said.  

Jeff Buckler, SIOR, senior vice president at Lee & Associates, agrees with Ciniello’s assessment. Buckler, who represented the McCabes in purchasing both parcels, put the proposal together after first chatting about it with Larson, Ciniello’s real estate representative.  

“It’s a big deal,” Buckler said. “I was courting that deal for about a year and putting it together.”  

Buckler approached Larson first about the real estate prospect.  

“Jeff came to me and asked me if it was for sale,” Larson said. “You know the old saying: Everything’s for sale for the right price. So, I said, ‘It’s not on the market.’ But I said, ‘If you’re interested, you need to tell me more about who is interested in it.’ So, he apparently approached Phil.”  

Buckler put the deal together, then brought the whole package to McCabe, he said.  

“After Jeff and I had several confidential discussions, he brought it to Phil and I brought the conversation to Pat and partners to work out the price and details after Phil showed a lot of interest in this property,” Larson said. “Jeff then brought it back to Phil to discuss an offer; I presented a preliminary offer to Pat and partners, and the rest is history.”  

Bowland Beacon in NaplesFirst frame  

The bowling alley—originally Pine Lanes—was built in 1957 near the northeast corner of Tamiami Trail North and Pine Ridge Road. Before Ciniello and his partners acquired the business and real estate, it had changed hands and was purchased by a group from South Bend, Indiana.   

“They had a bowling center called Beacon Bowl there and they changed the name,” Ciniello said. “Prior to us buying it, they added on the eight lanes. That was back in 1978. They added eight lanes, going from 16 to 24 lanes at that point.”   

Ciniello took an interest in bowling at an early age.  

“I bowled in grammar school, high school and collegiate. I worked in a bowling center cleaning bowling balls for free games. So, it was a labor of love,” he said.  

Early on, Ciniello even had aspirations to be a professional bowler.  

“I was pretty good, but not at the level,” he said. “And it’s been financially more rewarding to me to be an operator of them than to try to make money on a tour.”  

Ciniello’s business career was on the right path.  

“I worked for Treadway Companies, which was a public company that owned Treadway Inns, and they owned the Bowl-O-Mat bowling centers,” he said. “I worked my way up to director of operations in that business, where I was overseeing 28 bowling centers throughout the United States and Puerto Rico, but I always had the desire to own my own bowling center.”  

Two partners made that dream a reality when they invested in Ciniello, who was the hands-on operator. Their bowling dynasty in Southwest Florida actually began when Ciniello was visiting the area in the late 1970s.  

“I was on vacation and found out that this bowling center was for sale, which was Beacon Bowl, and we started negotiating on the deal,” he said. “And then actually in December of 1979, we consummated the deal. We agreed on it. And then we closed on Jan. 10 of 1980. That was the first humble entry into the bowling business.”  

That early investment amounted to only $17,500 for each of the three businessmen. Ciniello’s partners are now 92 and 93, and he will be 79 this month. Their investment paid off.  

“It’s definitely a landmark in the area. It’s my baby. That’s my first center,” Ciniello said.  

That’s also where he met his wife, Lisa, who was a waitress at Beacon Bowl. They will celebrate their 40th anniversary in December. “Time has flown,” he said.  

Ciniello also is the chairman of the board of QubicaAMF Worldwide, the largest manufacturer of bowling equipment in the world.  

“We see the latest and greatest technologies coming in the bowling industry and we test a lot of the equipment out, so our customers are always getting the latest and greatest of what’s coming in the market,” he said. “We’re going to continue to invest in our properties and we just love the industry and our customers.” 

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