About Hanover Bowling Centre

From The York Dailey record May 23, 2017

The Bair family recently celebrated its 60th year in the bowling business.

Three generations of the Bair family have been involved in the bowling business. They are, from left to right, Kristen Bair Gessner, Cathy Bair, Jackie Bair, Steve Bair, Greg Bair (seated), Mike Bair and Mary Bair.

In 1957, Glenn Bair took over the operation of Hanover Bowling Centre in Midway. Several years later, he changed the name of the facility to Go Go Bowling. His business grew from the 10-lane center to the current Hanover Bowling Centre, a 40-lane facility on Broadway -- the largest bowling establishment in York and Adams counties.

The bowling business has always been a family affair for the Bairs. Glenn's wife, Cathy, handled a variety of roles over the years. Sons Mike, Greg, and Steve, grew up in the business. Greg managed Go Go Bowling until its closing. Steve was involved until 1978 when he died as the result of a motorcycle accident. A third generation is helping to operate the center as Mike's children, Kristen and Steve, are involved.

Mike, the proprietor of Hanover Bowling Centre on Broadway, said being a family-owned business has been one of the center's strengths.

"Our parents established principles that serve us well today," he said. "They set a tremendous example. They were hard-working, fair, honest, and genuine. They treated customers and employees like family."

In a 1990 interview, Glenn said, "My goal has always been to serve the people and make them happy. To us, the customer is always number one. I want them to feel appreciated. We strive every day to give the customer the best service possible."

In January 1975, Bair opened Hanover Bowling Centre on Broadway, which had 16 lanes. From 1975-79, he operated both Go Go Bowling and Hanover Bowling Centre. In 1979, Bair expanded Hanover Bowling Centre to 32 lanes and closed Go Go Bowling. A restaurant and dining room were added. Hanover Bowling Centre expanded to 40 lanes in 1988. Bair's Den, a lounge with a full liquor license, opened in 1995. The center was remodeled in 2002, but a major fire in 2003 required another remodeling effort. Birthday party rooms were added in 2010.

Glenn, who died in 1992, delighted in telling the story of how he got involved in the bowling business. While stationed in California, he managed the Navy's bowling center for two years. When he was discharged, he thought he would like to stay in the field as a civilian. But his job hunt at various local bowling centers proved futile until he approached Harry Wolfe, proprietor of Hanover Bowling Centre in Midway.

It must have been a frustrating day for Wolfe, who told Bair he didn't have a job, but he would sell them the place. It was an offer Bair couldn't refuse.

Using his Navy experience for Go Go Bowling, he got results. He tried everything he could think of. He started a doubles tournament, built up league competition, initiated green stamp bowling and had a bowling party every holiday. He even considered hiring go-go dancers.

He took over Hanover Bowling Centre in Midway just about the time bowling was entering its most popular period. It was good timing.

However, while it was good timing from a business perspective, it wasn't from a family perspective.

"Mike and Greg were 15 months old and I was five months pregnant with Steve," said Cathy. "But, we jumped into the bowling business. I tried to help as much as possible and Glenn worked long hours."

Cathy recalled taking twins Mike and Greg to the center and helping to clean up after the lanes were resurfaced. Over the years, she was involved in numerous facets of operating the centers, ranging from bookkeeper to event planner.

"Glenn took a lot of pride in the centers," said Cathy. "He was extremely dedicated and worked hard to be successful."

When Glenn died, his funeral reception was held at Hanover Bowling Centre on Broadway because "it was like his second home," said Cathy. After Glenn's death, Mike and Mary Bair purchased the center.

While bowling has changed a lot in 60 years, the Bair family has had a consistent presence, one they hope continues for another generation.

"Our goal is to make sure Hanover Bowling Centre continues to be a wonderful place to bowl and our customers and employees are happy," said Mike.

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