Anne and Butch Fintelmann bought Pine Grove Lanes in March 2020, from the couple who had been running it for 50 years. They knew they wanted to keep the well-established tradition of the bowling alley, but they also wanted to make some updates.
Purchasing the business just days before the Safer At Home order happened in response to the COVID pandemic had its challenges, but also came with some silver linings. Anne and Butch originally planned to close to remodel for a couple weeks during the summer when league bowling was on break; however, since they had to remain closed March through May, they had even more time to dedicate to the project. “We were able to accomplish far more during the shutdown than we could have during two weeks in the summer,” Anne said.
The new owners’ updates included everything from simple painting and staining to adding a walk-in cooler, removing an old ceiling to add a new one and adding brand new electrical service to the entire building. They even knocked down a wall to create a separate space which is reservable for private parties and events. They also expanded the parking lot and installed a sand volleyball court.
These updates were possible partially through funding they received. The couple came to the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in hopes of getting help with financial projections and creating a business plan. Ray York, consultant at the Sheboygan County Economic Development Corporation/UW-Green Bay SBDC, was able to assist them with precisely those goals. “Ray was really helpful,” Anne said. “He helped us realize we were on the right track, and he guided us in creating a document we could take to the bank.” This small business also received an SBA loan and assistance through the federal CARES Act.
The back room at Butch & Anne’s offers lots of entertainment options.
The business had a gradual opening. In May, the space was open on weekends in order to earn a little income while still finishing the details of the remodel. Then, in July, the lanes were open Wednesday through Sunday, and finally on Labor Day 2020, this new business was open seven days per week.
The unique business is truly a well-supported family endeavor. Anne and Butch’s four children help out working at the alley, as do Anne’s in-laws. Nieces, friends and others in the community really helped with the remodel as well. The couple’s goal to make the former owners proud and serve the loyal clientele was evident in the successful grand opening event in August.
Accomplishments with UW-Green Bay SBDC
- Financial projections
- Business plan
- Funding resources
Anne looks forward to offering more special events like these when it is safe to do so. The owners have also joined the Wisconsin Bowling Association and the National Bowling Association. These groups host tours of vintage bowling alleys and the Fintelmanns cannot wait to be part of that tour. Other visions for the future include expanding the kitchen and adding restrooms, and maybe even adding delivery service to bring their menu items, especially their delicious homemade pizzas, to the community. Butch & Anne’s Pine Grove looks forward to their bright future in this “new” space.