Owner of Midway Lanes retires after 57 years

Published: Sep. 18, 2023 at 2:08 PM CDT
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MANDAN, N.D. (KFYR) - His career in bowling lasted more than six decades. Jim Mellon spent the last 57 years at Midway Lanes in Mandan. Mellon has retired and they’re going to celebrate his accomplishment next weekend.

“The guy wanted out and I wanted in,” said Mellon.

That was in 1966 when Mellon was only 23 years old.

“I made a decision on the spot. Married and had a one-year-old daughter. I’m going to try this and if I don’t make it, I’m young enough to start over. And I never looked back,” said Mellon.

Mellon was 17 years old when he went to school to learn the mechanics of what made the machines in a bowling center work. He was second out of the 50 that graduated in Chicago. Six years later, he made it to Mandan and bought a struggling business in January of ‘66.

“In less than three months she was packed full, seven days a week, because I knew what I was doing. I had run them before,” said Mellon.

Midway had 24 lanes back then. It’s safe to say Mellon was never afraid to bet on himself. He added on a dozen more lanes before eventually growing the bowling center to 52.

“If they’re having fun, you’re doing a good job. If you hear laughter in the background, you’re doing a good job. If the till has money in it, you know you’re doing a good job,” said Mellon.

Mellon was not only doing a good job, he was providing good jobs for some loyal employees, including Bryan Goehring, who worked for Mellon 25 years ago. Goehring is now the new owner following Mellon’s retirement.

“I miss it already. I’m having issues. I was seven days a week for 57 years,” said Mellon.

1987 was the year Mellon and KFYR-TV decided to start the annual Bowling Classic.

“That was a home run. The relationship we have with KFYR is unbelievable,” said Mellon.

The viewing public also got to know him through his commercials.

“When I was supposed to repeat certain things, they’d say take number 26, take number 31, I would get it about right and I’d miss a word,” said Mellon.

The bowling community will miss Mellon, but you can stop by Midway Lanes on Sunday to say thanks.

“I’m sure some of my old friends that don’t bowl anymore will be here. There’s not going to be any tears, a lot of laughter and jokes,” said Mellon.

Mellon’s retirement open house at Midway Lanes is September 24 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.