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Introducing: The Ballroom, the downtown bowling alley with UFC and gourmet chicken wings

Introducing: The Ballroom, the downtown bowling alley with UFC and gourmet chicken wings
145 John Street

Until recently, Bathurst Bowlerama—site of kids’ parties and seniors’ leagues—has been the only option for downtowners looking to play a few frames. That is, until now. The much-anticipated Ballroom is now open in the old Montana’s space at John and Richmond. It’s billing itself as “Toronto’s newest interactive entertainment centre,” and with 20,000 square feet of space, nine lanes, two floors, 52 big-screen TVs and seven 12-by-six-foot projection screens, the claims appear to be justified.

The Ballroom isn’t like the bowleramas of our childhood. There are no machines dispensing candy for a quarter, no cosmic bowling and, thankfully, fewer groups of screeching kids. “It’s a little more sophisticated than your average bowling place,” says Thanos Tripi, one of the five partners (the others are Andreas Antoniou, Paul Donato, Warren Needler and Matty Tsoumaris).

Introducing: The Ballroom, the downtown bowling alley with UFC and gourmet chicken wings
Introducing: The Ballroom, the downtown bowling alley with UFC and gourmet chicken wings
Introducing: The Ballroom, the downtown bowling alley with UFC and gourmet chicken wings
Introducing: The Ballroom, the downtown bowling alley with UFC and gourmet chicken wings
Introducing: The Ballroom, the downtown bowling alley with UFC and gourmet chicken wings
Introducing: The Ballroom, the downtown bowling alley with UFC and gourmet chicken wings
Introducing: The Ballroom, the downtown bowling alley with UFC and gourmet chicken wings
Introducing: The Ballroom, the downtown bowling alley with UFC and gourmet chicken wings
Introducing: The Ballroom, the downtown bowling alley with UFC and gourmet chicken wings
Introducing: The Ballroom, the downtown bowling alley with UFC and gourmet chicken wings

The space is awash in design quirks, like the bowling pin light fixtures, barrel side tables and a mosaic wall. The partners have also teamed up with chef Tawfik Shehata, formerly of Vertical, to offer comfort food staples with a foodie twist (the organic, free-range chicken wings, for example, are grilled, not fried). Having opened ahead of schedule to deal with a heavy demand over the holidays, The Ballroom is serving a limited menu, which will expand over the next few weeks. The full menu will be in effect at the beginning of February. The Ballroom also has 16 brews on tap to quench thirst and provide excuses for gutter balls.

Perhaps the only things that didn’t get an update are the shoes. As Tripi explains, “They’re not old, they’re brand new, but they’ve got that classic retro style that everyone recognizes. In fact, people have already been stealing them.”

Bowling $25 per half hour before 5 p.m., $37.50 per half hour after 5 p.m. Shoe rental $5.

The Ballroom, 145 John St. (at Richmond St. W.), 416-597-2695, theballroom.ca.

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