Residents spend last weekend at Chilli Bowl

Drew Veskauf TimesNewspapers

Chillicothe will be losing one of its staple sources of entertainment with the closing of the Chilli Bowl, 615 W. Truitt Ave. The last day for the lanes to be open will be April 18 but many made it out Friday and Saturday for one last hurrah.

Nicole Toliver, who grew up in Chillicothe but now resides in Peoria, wanted to enjoy the Chilli Bowl one last time to celebrate her 29th birthday.

“We came here every single weekend. This was the place to be. It was always happening. It was good fun, clean fun too. It was awesome. In a small town there’s not much to do, so, in this town there’s theaters and trouble and there’s not much trouble in bowling,” Toliver said.

“I invited a bunch of my friends, all the kids that grew up in this place, it’s like let’s get it out with a bang.”

Toliver and her friends were enjoying one last night on the lanes and enjoying the food from the kitchen.

With the closing, Toliver said other bowling alleys in the area, mainly in Peoria, do not offer the same feeling of what the Chilli Bowl offers.

“We actually live in Peoria now, but we still come here to bowl. I would rather take my kids here than Peoria. They might be big, but it’s annoying, it’s crowded, it’s overrated, plain and simple. You get the whole experience here,” Toliver said.

One of Toliver’s friends present for the birthday party also grew up in Chillicothe and is now working as a caregiver. Daryl Kilbey said with the Chilli Bowl closing those he takes care of will have to travel to Peoria for the lanes. Kilbey was also concerned with seeing a small-town bowling alley close.

“I always hate it when a business, like a leisure business like this, loses out and has to close down,” Kilbey said. “It’s nothing but bars, gas stations and banks here so it just gave the kids something to do.”

Also at the lanes on Saturday was Tim Alexander with his wife Jon’l and two sons, Joey and Jonothan.

Alexander moved to Mossville seven years ago and said the Chilli Bowl became the family bowling alley and that pieces of small-town America dying out is a sad thing.

“This was the kids’ first bowling alley so it will always hold a special place in our hearts, and we heard about it closing and we’re very sad to see it go. This is the last Saturday night so we just wanted to let the kids experience it one more time,” Alexander said.

“There’s lots of bowling alleys but these small mom’n’pop bowling alleys and the nostalgia and charm that goes into them are disappearing like drive-in theaters and the other bits of America. You’ve really got to embrace them if your community still has them.”

Alexander said that he hopes for the Chilli Bowl to find a buyer to help keep the importance of it alive.

The Chilli Bowl will close its doors at 2 p.m. Friday.

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