News & Politics

DC Area’s Rowdiest Bowling Alley Lives On Despite More Than 60 Calls to Police Since Opening

The Crystal City business has been called "the Wild West" of bowling alleys.

Photograph courtesy of Shutterstock.

Good luck finding a bowling alley in the DC area as rowdy as Bowlero. Since opening in July 2020, the business, located in Crystal City, has been an alleged magnet for chaos, as first reported by ARLnow. An altercation resulted in one patron pepper spraying another patron. A car was destroyed by a group outside the establishment. Nude dancing was reported on top of another car. These are just some of the calls for service at the bowling alley that the Arlington County Police Department have received in the past two years, according to ACPD memos.

ACPD received 29 calls for service in 2021 at Bowlero. In 2020, there were 32 calls for service, including a complaint that a group of patrons “attacked” an employee and another accusing a patron of assaulting a security guard. Management did not respond to our requests for comments.

Despite the calls to police, and a soured relationship between the establishment and nearby residents, the Arlington County Board renewed Bowlero’s use permits—to continue operations—on Saturday.

As reported in the ARLNow story, the Board renewed Bowlero’s use permit on the conditions that its staff will address and minimize community concerns, followed by an administrative review next January. The Board will review the establishment’s compliances in January 2025.

Since the issuing of its use permits in 2019 and consecutive renewals, Bowlero had agreed to conditions including upkeep of the sidewalks in front of the establishment and compliance with the county’s noise control. A virtual town hall aimed to resolve residents’ concerns was also held.

While the Crystal City Civic Association (CCCA) and the Aurora Highlands Civic Association (AHCA) stated they do not have a position for this year’s review, in December 2020, CCCA expressed concerns about the noise from Bowlero and security issues within the garage shared by patrons and the building’s residents.

ACPD supports the use permit renewal, saying that Bowlero is accredited by the Arlington Restaurant Initiative (ARI), a program providing restaurant owners safety resources in coordination with ACPD. A neighborhood liaison also has been established to address residents’ concerns.

The Board report also concluded that Bowlero implemented “proper safety measures and best practices” to calm and manage crowds as well as enacting security checks for its patrons.

David Tran
Editorial Fellow