Wednesday, August 29, 2007

An Bird-Eye View of the Empty Lot

If you click the button marked "SAT", zoom in all the way by clicking the + button and click the <- button once or twice, you can see the aerial view of the lot. This must have been taken years ago, just after the bulldozers and dump trucks cleared out the rubble. Now that lot is overgrown with grass and brush.
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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Kevin's Story About Kona Lanes

I walked into Kona Lanes for the first time in January 1999. I remember that walk very well. You see, my lovely ex-live-in-girlfriend and I had broken up a few months before and I was living alone in a low rent $200 a month bachelor apartment off of Newport Blvd., (which is now a Comfort Inn) which was great! Great until the day she demanded that since her father had refinanced my car that I give it back or else I could give her $1,000 cash and I could keep the car. Needless to say I didn't have the money, so now I had no car. After a full day of walking up and down Harbor Blvd. and getting very depressed about not finding a decent car I could afford, I walked into Kona hoping to blow off a little steam by singing some karaoke. The manager Juanita told me that they only had karaoke on the weekends and to come back then. I was about to turn to face that dismal walk down Fair Ave. back to Newport Blvd. when Juanita asked me if I could run the karaoke player for a group of bowlers that wanted to sing. She said she would pay me cash, which I think it was $50 and that she would tell the bowlers to tip me also. I had a good friend that was a karaoke host and I had been to other shows, so I knew what to do, but it was my first time doing by myself. I was pretty nervous but I sure needed that money! After that night Juanita hired me on a trial basis. I stayed there as a karaoke host until the last week Kona was torn down in 2003.

Kona was my first experience as a karaoke DJ, so I didn't know really what to expect. Here's what I had to deal with:
  • I was an employee of the bowling alley, so I had a time clock to punch and was paid $8 an hour. That was after my big raise!
  • I had taxes deducted from my paycheck.
  • I was not allowed to drink on the job (Which I somehow always seemed to forget).
  • I had to pick up empty glasses and beer bottles and wipe down tables. It was my job and not the bartenders.
  • I had to check the I.D.'s and drivers licenses of people coming into the bar. There was to be NO ONE under 21 inside the lounge (Even my own son had to wait outside).
  • I was under NO circumstances allowed to have the back door open or let anyone IN through that door. It was a fire EXIT ONLY. (This was impossible because people would come in and out through that door to smoke in the front of the building. I got yelled at the most for that one).
  • We had a dance floor, but by law we were not supposed to dance. Allowing dancing would have upped our insurance, so NO DANCING!
Other karaoke hosts told me that I was crazy for staying at Kona; that they didn't put up with any of that crap at their shows! Years later I can see what they meant!

The equipment that I had to use back then was pretty bad. They had only 50 karaoke CD's at first, which is only half of the basic starter set (The DK series) of what most places had. The reason? The other 50 CD's were stolen 3 years before I started and management never bothered to replace them. Even when I found copies they could purchase, they said it was wasn't worth the cost. The speakers we had to use were from an old home stereo, and they eventually blew up. With all of my lava lamps, black lights, disco ball and Christmas lights; many times we would blow a fuse and the show would be shut down for hours. The wiring in the place was a joke, several outlets had caught fire at one time or another and were unusable; so you had to run everything off of extension cords.

It seemed that Juanita the manager hated karaoke. The karaoke shows soon became too popular and she didn't want the hassle of that many people in the bar. She was a bowler and she would many times tell me that catering to bowlers and the bowling leagues is what kept Kona afloat. But I happen to know that on many nights that little bar would pull in $6,000 or even more, several times a cool $10,000! That was including the bowlers drinking on the alleys, but a lot of it was the huge crowd we would get in the lounge. The bartenders were soon told not to tell anyone how much we made. Hmmm, I wonder why! I wonder if the IRS knew how much we made!

On one night of the week, Juanita wanted the bar cleared out at 10:30pm so that her and her friends could drink in peace and quiet, regardless if there were a big group of karaoke singers or not. She and I were constantly at odds with each other. I know that she had been managing a failing business for too long and I was just this smart ass DJ.

You're not gonna believe this!: The bartenders were instructed to pour generic liquor inside the name brand bottles; to water down the liquor inside the bottles and to consolidate the old alcohol into the next bottle. Because of this practice; I remember one time, a regular was served a glass full of dead fruit flies! We should have been shut down long before the bowling alley was torn down!

Kona Lanes Interior

Kona Lanes Interior DSCN0012
Originally uploaded by hungry_i
So quiet you could hear a pin drop, get it?

Kona Lanes Front Door

Kona Lanes interiorDSCN0013
Originally uploaded by hungry_i
The writing above the door reads, "Through these doors pass the world's GREATEST BOWLERS". This is right next to the lounge where I hosted the karaoke show.

Kona Sunset

Originally uploaded by hungry_i
Great Picture!

Kona Lanes

Kona Lanes
Originally uploaded by Woodmania
This is the sign, alive and well and living in Ohio of all places! I guess the BOWL part of the sign was too damaged so only the top portion was rescued.

After All These Years, Still An Empty Lot

Kona and the ice skating rink near it were torn down in order to build a Kohl's Department store. Years later the area still remains a empty lot. There are several stories as to why construction was never finished but I don't know the definite answer; I welcome your comments.
Here are some pictures of the former site of Kona Lanes as it is today.

If you remember Kona Lanes, you will probably remember "Noise Noise Noise", the independant record store across the street. This is what it looks like now:

Yes! Just what Costa Mesa needs! More Nail & Spa Salons!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Kona Lanes

Kona Lanes was a Polynesian themed 40 lane bowling alley located at 2699 Harbor Blvd. in Costa Mesa, CA. It was in business for 45 years, from 1958 to 2003. There was an ecletic mix of people that went there. From the little kids playing bumper bowling, teens playing pinball in the arcade, punks moshing to the bands that played for almost free on the weekends, families, old men, homeless people and of course the freaks that went there for karaoke. I should know about that last one, I was the host of karaoke at Kona from 1999 until the week it closed.

Until I can get my own pictures up, I'd like to give credit to:::
and the Tiki Forum for their pictures.