by Fred Eisenhammer
STUDIO CITY – Surprise! It was announced last week that PINZ Bowling Center has a new director of leagues and league operations. What’s the surprise? The surprise is that PINZ has sported a flourishing array of leagues throughout its 60-year existence. That fact is overshadowed by PINZ’s reputation as one of the most vibrant bowling centers in the country – one that caters to the party and dating crowd and celebrity scene.
But the upscale center tucked inside Jerry’s Deli on Ventura Boulevard in Studio City also has quietly distinguished itself with16 diverse leagues comprised of about 1,000 bowlers. It’s now the job of Eric Ott to oversee the leagues’ operation.
That might not be too difficult for Ott because he has witnessed the leagues’ popularity firsthand. He once participated in three PINZ leagues in one season and now serves as president of the Tavern Guild Bowling League.
Ott, 54, carries a 172 average in the league, one of three gay leagues at PINZ. PINZ is more than just leagues and celebrity appearances. This month, for example, the bowling center staged the three-day 2017 World Police & Fire Games. “We literally had people from all over the world,” said Ott, a resident of Valley Village who has been associated with PINZ for the last 10 years. “I met people from Australia, Philippines, Malaysia and England. We even had a squad from the Disney Fire Department.”
Ott’s promotion isn’t the only new thing at PINZ. “Last July, we put in brand new lanes. It’s only a year old,” said Ott, a North Los Angeles County USBC board member. “And we put in brand-new pins seven weeks ago. We try to put in new pins every 12-14 months.”
PINZ also added a travel league, which Ott says is a daytime and scratch league. Those league bowlers will alternate competing at four local centers – which will include PINZ.
Ott says the key to PINZ’s success is its employees – from its front desk to its management. And he doesn’t leave out the key role played by Jerry’s Deli, which furnishes the center’s food and beverage. He says it’s “not just the bowling” that makes PINZ special, “but the food that comes with it.”
As for taking over his new position at PINZ, the former Gelson’s Markets manager put it succinctly: “I am completely excited,” Ott said.