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Hollywood Bowl set to return on December 8 to Norwich's Riverside complex

Preview of the soon to be reopening Hollywood Bowl on The Riverside, Norwich.; Centre Manager, Roddy Trimble

Preview of the soon to be reopening Hollywood Bowl on The Riverside, Norwich.; Centre Manager, Roddy Trimble

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2010

The long-awaited return of one of the two flagship venues at Riverside which have been closed for three years is now just weeks away.

As reported by the Evening News, the Riverside complex, which also includes the Odeon cinema, has been hit hard by the absence of the Hollywood Bowl and the former Lava/Ignite nightclub and missed the money spent by thousands of clubbers and bowlers who used to visit.

December 8 marks the launch of The Original Bowling Company’s brand new state-of-the-art tenpin bowling centre at Riverside, which will comprise 26 fully computerised lanes offering the latest graphics, a modern bar, cafe and an amusements area.

Hollywood Bowl manager Roddy Trimble said that nearly the whole inside of the building was new and the lanes were now synthetic instead of wood, and would last longer. He said: “We have moved the reception to the back wall to open up space for customer seating. The café is now incorporated into the bar.

“It will employ 40 people including six who worked at the former venue before it closed. At any one time, 208 people can be bowling with about 300 people in the rest of the area. There’s also a new feature – a new marketing and conference room, and we even have massive size 20 shoes in stock for the bigger bowlers.”

Feedback from other businesses at Riverside had been brilliant, he said. “We are expecting a big footfall when we open. We have struck up relationships with all the other operators at Riverside. I don’t think I have ever been welcomed anywhere as much as I have here. Feedback from locals has also been really positive. It seems people have really missed it.”

The imminent return of the Hollywood Bowl has been welcomed by neighbouring businesses, and also by citizens’ and business groups. Julian Foster, chairman of the Central Norwich Citizens’ Forum, said: “I welcome the immediate reopening of the Hollywood Bowl, which will start to restore Riverside to its original concept with a comprehensive variety of leisure venues.

“And when, in early spring, Luminar Leisure reopens what was Lava and Ignite, now entirely rebranded and re-furbished, the area will again be complete.

“During recent months venue managers on Riverside have reported a decline in footfall and the removal of both the Hollywood Bowl and Riverside’s biggest nightclub has put the other venues at some risk because clients wanting a night out finishing with a visit to a nightclub often start their evening at other bars before moving on and, because of its long closure, that trade has not been available.

“Hopefully, with these two gaps in X-Leisure’s (the site’s landlords) site filled again trade will return to Riverside and we can all breathe a sigh of relief. I wish them luck”

Meanwhile, Caroline Williams, chief executive of the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the re-opening would enhance the area.

She said: “Businesses in the Riverside area welcome the news concerning the Hollywood Bowl reopening before Christmas as it will enhance this already vibrant area. Norwich continues to buck the trend with shoppers out in force spending money, and the ability to access quality leisure facilities is part of the overall experience.”

Hollywood Bowl Norwich will incorporate the latest Qubica-AMF SPL Integra GT lanes which provide glow track functionality, which illuminates the lanes and gives them an impressive glow under black lighting.

The centre’s state of the art sound and lighting system comprises the latest light effects for a fantastic bowling atmosphere, and the centre boasts interactive video juke boxes, with the latest LCD screens above the lanes and in the bar area.

The bar will also house a giant projector TV, and its large amusements area will also offer all encompassing entertainment with a variety of arcade games, pool tables, dance machines and a dedicated Play to Win area where tickets can be collected to win prizes ranging from sweets and novelties to video gaming systems such as Nintendo DS and Sony Playstations.

In August 2010 AMF Bowling purchased the Hollywood Bowl centres from Mitchells & Butler. The AMF Family Entertainments Centres were merged with the Hollywood Bowls to form ‘The Original Bowling Company’, the UK’s largest tenpin bowling operator.

As reported, the bowling club and nightclub originally closed due to structural problems.

In May last year X-Leisure launched a £20m lawsuit against contractors claiming a breach of contract, saying the beams beneath the nightclub were flawed.

However, an out-of-court legal settlement resolved the row, and a legal deal was struck to enable both the nightclub and bowling alley to be refurbished.

Meanwhile, the date for the reopening of the former Lava/Ignite, now renamed Project, has been put back to the last week of February next year. The nightclub was expected to also reopen before Christmas but a spokesman for Luminar Leisure said they received the site four weeks late.

The new nightclub will have two main rooms, exclusive VIP area, chill-out bar, purpose-built stage for live entertainment, state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems and dedicated karaoke booths.

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