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Former Belt Bowl owners reflect on six decades of family ownership

The Belt Bowl had been a part of the Tucker family for nearly 60 years.

Posted: Oct. 8, 2018 10:39 AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.)   Scott Tucker was a little nostalgic last Thursday night walking through the Belt Bowl, thanking bowlers for their support. Tucker, and his brother Tim had owned and managed The Belt Sports Complex for the past 42 years and had just sold out.

Tucker looked back at the accomplishment of maintaining the business so long.

"We've just been real fortunate, very lucky and a never give up attitude," he said.

Belt Bowl was built in 1958. Tucker's parents Norman and Helen bought the business three years later. Bowling was in the family's blood.

"Originally it was an income, it became a lot more than that. My father's love for the game was his life and then it grew into ours," Tucker said.

Both Scott and Tim became regular fixtures at the bowling alley, both day and night.

"Seven days a week, from early morning, 8-9 o'clock in the morning, sometimes until 12-1 o'clock at night," Tim Tucker said.

Over the years, the Tucker's business expanded to include a sports bar, outdoor sand volleyball courts and even later a pool hall. But through all the expansion, the Tucker's never forgot about their past. The bowling alley snackbar is still named Sparky's, a nickname of their father's.

"My father loved to teach the game, loved to do the game. We bowled day and night 6-7 days a week," Scott Tucker said.

Both Tuckers say they won't miss the long hours of running the business and the daily struggle of trying to keep a small family business succeed. However, they do say they'll miss the people.

"The bowling family, the bowling community in St. Joe, Scott and I, Laura, my sister, I don't want to forget her, and my parents, we've been a part of that family for 60 years," Tim Tucker said.

"It's one of those things you can do 365 days a year, rain or shine. It's just a great, the best, of the family lifetime sports," added Scott.

Some might worry about the fate of the Belt Sports Complex. It sits on 6 1/2 acres of prime real estate, that would be ideal for a developer. However, the good news for bowlers is that the six decade locally-owned bowling family business will be taken over by another local bowling family.

Mike and Jeny White are the new owners of what will now be called Belt Entertainment. They have been managers at the Belt Bowl for a couple years and previously were managers of Olympia Lanes. They also have a passion for the sport.

"We're relieved," Tim Tucker said. "One of my big worries was if we ended up selling the place and it was going to become something else and wasn't going to be a bowling center anymore."

The White's plan a lot of big changes for the future, including a lot of new equipment for the bowling center and a new laser tag area for the facility.

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