Business

Rocket Alley Bar and Grill opens for Show-n-Shine

Steve Saunders guides a hired hand installing a fence around his future beer garden.    - Sarah Arney
Steve Saunders guides a hired hand installing a fence around his future beer garden.
— image credit: Sarah Arney

ARLINGTON — The pressure was on for Steve Saunders to get Rocket Alley Bar & Grill ready to open for the car show, and it all paid off.

The outdoor dining area and beer garden at the new restaurant at the former MeLady Bowling Alley was packed for lunch during the car show and kept busy all afternoon.

Saunders named his new business after himself.

“Rocket Alley was my nickname as a kid,” Saunders said during the week before his soft opening.

Saunders saved the six-lane bowling alley that hails back to the 1940s.

He remodeled the interior and spruced up the front, covering the formerly pink awning with his new red and black color scheme.

After signing a 10-year lease with building owner Brad Jones in February this year, Saunders started working toward a May opening, installing a large black metal fence around the parking area to create an outdoor dining area and beer garden.

He rebuilt the kitchen, covering the front window with his new grill, and renovated the entire interior.

He hired a staff of 10 people to run the new business, including cooks, servers, bussers, and pin setters for the bowling alley.

“I hired a lot of local kids,” Saunders said. “They are all trained to do everything.”

The remodel took longer than he expected, as remodels do, and in early June he made the decision to be open for the 10th Annual Show-n-Shine car show June 13. He spent last week, June 8-12, gathering all the inspections he needed.

A graduate of Granite Falls High School, Saunders is well prepared for his new business venture. He got training as a cook many years ago working at Weller’s Family Restaurant in 1977 and worked at Buzz Inn in its early years. He owned and operated Westside Paint Ball for 20 years, and did some crab fishing out of Dutch Harbor in Alaska.

In the past five years, he’s been selling heavy equipment and quit that job Feb. 27 after signing the lease with Jones.

He’s excited to be doing business in Arlington, where his mom lives up the street on South Olympic Avenue.

“It’s been great working with the city’s permit department, he said.

“Brenda, Sonya and Scott have all been very helpful.”

The outdoor dining was full at lunch time Saturday during the sunny day at the Show-n-Shine Car Show.

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