With nods to “The Big Lebowski,” high-concept pub grub, witty cocktails and 16 beers on draft, the Comet Pub & Lanes in Decatur is the kind of bowling alley where you could have a good time without going near a lane.
Last year, the team behind Decatur’s Twain’s Brewpub & Billiards bought the former Suburban Lanes in the redeveloped Suburban Plaza shopping center, and completely renovated the space, while still holding on to the vintage 1950s Brunswick bowling equipment.
Currently, there are 32 working lanes, plus updates such as iPad systems for scoring, rows of flat-screen TVs, and indoor shuffleboard courts.
Last week, Ethan Wurtzel — who owns the Comet with his brother, Uri Wurtzel, and Twain’s general manager and partner, Ben Horgan — took a break from the rumble and clatter of the alley to talk about getting into the bowling business.
“We were looking for a second project, potentially another Twain’s,” Wurtzel said. “But we had an event at Suburban Lanes with our staff. And we were all having a really good time and jokingly discussed that this might be the idea.
“Two weeks later, we found out it was for sale. Ultimately, we felt that we could transform it into something that would mimic what we do at Twain’s.”
The process took 13 months, from purchase to the opening day in mid-July, with a whole lot of demolition.
“Pretty much anything that the customer would have come in contact with at Suburban, other than the lanes and the mechanisms, was torn out, down to the concrete,” Wurtzel said. “Everything else that you see was built by us. The bar top is reclaimed bowling alley heart pine. The kitchen and draft system are all brand-new.”
As at Twain’s, beer and spirits are an important part of the mix at the Comet. In homage to “The Dude,” the cocktail list includes a classic White Russian, as well as a new take, dubbed El Duderino.
“Besides 16 draft beers, we’ll work up to 50 or 60 canned and bottled beers,” Wurtzel said.” And we’ll continue with predominantly American spirits, and keep local with things like Old 4th Distillery vodka and gin.”
Chef Savannah Haseler of Twain’s created the Comet food menu and oversees the kitchen with an eye to local ingredients.
Springer Mountain chicken wings are sauced with the likes of Sriracha, sorghum or lime pepper. The Comet Burger is made with White Oak Pastures grass-fed beef, and hand-tossed pizzas can be topped with Pine Street Market sausage and bacon.
“We kind of set that bar pretty high at Twain’s, so that is the expectation now,” Wurtzel said. “But we couldn’t stray too far from what you’d want to eat at a bowling alley, with burgers and pizza and wings, though everything is from scratch and we’re often using local ingredients. So it might be the best bowling alley food you’ve ever had. That’s the goal, anyway.”
2619 N. Decatur Road, Decatur. 470-225-1931.
Here are more images from a First Look at The Comet.