Washington’s Plaza Lanes strikes first with city’s loan program

By Holly Eitenmiller For Chronicle Media

City of Washington mayor Gary Manier poses with Plaza Lanes owner Gary Alstott his employees: (From left) Matt Yoder, Conner Smith, Gary Alstott, Gary Manier, Janice Rathbun, Steve Hartseil, Becky Williams and Debra Morgan. (Photo courtesy of Plaza Lanes)

Tag, Washington is it.

The city of Washington has issued its first loan through its Revolving Loan Fund to keep the ball rolling on local family entertainment.

In March, Plaza Lanes owners Gary and Lisa Alstott will complete a 4,000-square-foot addition that will feature a two-story 20-player laser tag arena and a 1,000-square-foot redemption arcade for players waiting in line to play tag.

“If you want to bowl a few games, you don’t need a sitter for the kids,” Plaza Lanes office manager Rebecca Baker said. “Just put the kids in laser tag and go bowl three games.”

The 20-lane bowling alley at 1500 Washington Road was built in 1962 by Tom Brown and Jerry Erickson. The Alstottshave owned since 2005 and are putting a new spin on a long-standing American pastime.

Washington Mayor Gary Manier said the revolving loan fund is intended to improve on existing businesses, and he’s pleased the Alstotts are leveraging the opportunity.

“I’m really excited for Gary and Lisa, and I’m glad they chose to show their commitment to Washington is solid,” he said. “It’s exciting. This project will bring something new to our city that’s not currently available.”

The foundation is in place, Baker said, and the building materials are slated for delivery this month. Construction and equipment installation should take less than six weeks.

“We’re hoping to open the arena the first week of March,” Baker said. “We’re still working on package prices.”

The Area 51-themed laser tag arena will showcase a Zone Laser Tag system, which features special effect lighting, painting and props. Players will carry infrared laser guns and laser sensitive tag vests, which are linked to a computer for scoring.

Kids waiting in line for laser tag may play for prizes at the lower-level redemption arcade, where games pay off with tickets which can be traded for rewards. The expansion leaves room for the Alstotts to improve on traditional bowling attractions.

“Once the arcade’s moved, we’ll feature a pro shop, where the ball can be drilled up and we can watch the ball be thrown and make sure finger sizes are right, if they need inserts,” Baker said. “We already feature a display of balls, but we drill in the back. Now it’s order it, drill it, throw it.”

Ball orders, she said, arrive within five days, and bowlers may also order shoes, bags and accessories. Necessities like tape, rosin bags and Easy Slides may still be handily bought from the usual vending machine.

“We’re always promoting leagues here,” Baker said, “but we also like to make our open bowl nights more fun than your average night out to dinner and a movie.”

On Friday and Saturday nights, the lights go out and bowlers aim for glow-in-the dark pins, sometimes in their pajamas, other nights, a favorite team jersey.

“Pajama night was really successful,” she said. “We’re also creating a theme night. If you come in and donate goods for a charity within our community, you’ll get something, like a pitcher of soda for your donation.”

Gary and Lisa would like to work with Washington Helps Its People, WHIP, and Threads of Hope and Love for charity nights.

“Plaza Lanes really cares about this community,” Baker said, “and bowling is really a family-oriented sport. If you can pick up a six-pound ball, you can throw that until you’re 90.”


What is a revolving loan?

The purpose of the city of Washington’s program — funded through a federal grant — is to help create or retain jobs and assist in providing local businesses with the opportunity to expand.

An applicant must be a corporation, limited liability corporation, partnership, or sole proprietorship that has established a financing need that cannot be met through other funding sources.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Businesses must be for-profit and have a brick-and-mortar location (no home occupations).
  • Home occupations are eligible if the funding would be utilized to establish a new business location.
  • Businesses must be located east of Ernest Street due to USDA geographic criteria.
  • Businesses should retain and/or create jobs as a result of the loan.
  • Existing businesses shall not be overdue on any sales tax filing statements (if applicable).

Eligible Projects/Priorities

  • Acquisition of real estate, either land and/or buildings
  • Purchase of new or used machinery and equipment
  • Support for the use of new technologies, growth industries, and/or high-tech firms
  • Inventory and working capital
  • Small business development, including start-ups

Length of Loan

The maximum length of any loan is 10 years,




— Washington’s Plaza Lanes strikes first with city’s loan program —