“Our parents opened the doors to Liberty Lanes in September 1979.”

“I wasn’t old enough to serve drinks yet, back then, so I started in the kitchen and Penni started out as a waitress. And 41 years later, we’re still here. I’m still cooking and Penni is still the face of the bar. All our kids have worked here, at one point or another.”

“We lose money every summer because our restaurant alone cannot support this place. And we didn’t do much bar service anymore, except for our leagues and events. But then COVID-19 hit.”

“We had to totally shut down our bowling alley and our bar. All we have left to depend on is takeout from our restaurant.”

“After we were able to get back to business, we actually had a really good October, and half of November… things were really going well: the leagues had all started, open bowling was coming back – everything was looking up and then she closed us down again.”

“Our leagues are small; we have five or six leagues that are only six teams. And we have 16 lanes. We have more than enough room to separate those teams so they could bowl while socially distanced. But we are not allowed to be open at all, because then we take the risk of losing the liquor license. We can’t afford to lose our liquor license or our food license or our lottery license.”

“We’ve been wearing face masks, sanitizing, distancing, being super careful with everything in the kitchen, having all our tables six feet apart … Plus, our league bowlers are not picking bowling balls off the rack or renting shoes – league bowlers come in with their own equipment! But she closed us right down. It just doesn’t make sense to me.”

“It has killed our December. If we would have been able to open, then we would have had a halfway decent year. December is one of our busiest times of the year. But I don’t see any relief in January either. I’m afraid we’re going to be doing the same thing.”

“We hope to never lose anything. We worked hard all of our lives to build this. But there is always that risk, hanging over our heads.”

“The community has been phenomenal to us. From businesses ordering pizzas, buying up gift certificates, to everyday folks coming out to support us – we received lots of help and business that has allowed us to keep going.”

“At Thanksgiving time, a whole list of people came together to give turkey dinners to all of our waitstaff and our cook. They did that for every restaurant in town, I believe. A turkey with everything you could think of – all the fixings.”

“Our staff was extremely appreciative. It was so overwhelming to see how giving and caring those people were. This is what small town America is all about.”

“We’re just holding on for dear life around here. You just have to pray and hope that everything ends up okay.”

Heidi Wrathell and Penni Kruger
Owners, Liberty Lanes
Sandusky, MI