Costa Mesa History: Kona Lanes

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February 25th 2024: Kona Lanes, located in Costa Mesa, California, was a vibrant bowling center that operated from 1958 to 2003. Known for its futuristic design, it boasted 40 wood-floor bowling lanes, a game room, a lounge, and a coffee shop that eventually transformed into a Mexican dinerThe building’s distinctive features included Tiki-inspired stylingneon lights, and exaggerated rooflines—all hallmarks of the Googie architecture popular during that era12.

The massive neon-lit street sign at Kona Lanes remained a landmark throughout its existence. Interestingly, Kona was one of the few bowling establishments in the area that rejected automatic scoring equipment, maintaining a more traditional approach2The center even hosted the Southern California PBA Open twice in 1964, with champions like Billy Hardwick and Jerry Hale taking the spotlight2.

When Kona Lanes was demolished in 2003, it marked the end of an era. The distinctive sign was saved and now resides in the American Sign Museum in Cincinnati, Ohio. Although the land where Kona Lanes once stood remained vacant for years, it was eventually rezoned for senior citizens’ apartments and commercial development2.

Editors Note: During High School as well as after i often visited Kona Lanes and it was a cool funky place to hang out and bowl. Sometimes when i was with a group Kona would lose out to either Fountain Valley or Westminster Lanes which both had automatic scoring. It was sad to see Kona Lanes vacant for years a planned Kohl’s store that never happened and ,like the Ice Capades even sadder when it was torn down.

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