The Roots of Rancho Bowl: Celebrating 60 Years in Santa Maria
Rancho Bowl is celebrating their 60th year in the Santa Maria Valley Community as an entertainment hub for families to bowl, dine and gather for celebrations of all kinds. This family-owned business has kept the same tradition since it first opened in 1959: to create an exciting environment for people to have fun.
The man behind this plan was Rancho Bowl founder, Mili Acquistapace. 60 years ago, this farmer, businessman and family-man wanted to create a gathering place for Santa Maria Valley locals to celebrate, gather and experience the fun of bowling. 60 years later, Rancho Bowl continues to carry on Mili’s tradition.
Today, Mili’s legacy carries on. Rancho Bowl’s current co-owners include his daughter, Viki Murray, along with his grandson Luke Carranza and granddaughter-in-law, Ashlee Carranza.
In 1959, the humble beginnings of Rancho Bowl started as a 24 lane bowling alley which then expanded to 32 lanes just a short year later. Included in the original building was a pro-shop where bowlers rented and bought shoes, bags, balls, and even had their bowling balls repaired. Other features included in the bowling alley was a barbershop, hair salon, coffee shop, small arcade center and a playroom for children.
Through the 60s, families began to gather at Rancho Bowl as it became one of the few places in the community that provided the quality of fun and entertainment they were searching for. Almost immediately, bowlathons became a community favorite. Families gathered to bowl as local high school students kept score with a pen and paper. It not only became a booming bowling alley, but also a place for community social gatherings.
“There was nothing like this in Santa Maria before Rancho Bowl,” said Murray. “My father wanted to bring fun to our community and he did that when he started this business.”
The next couple of decades saw advancements in dining. Santa Maria style BBQ and the Rancho Bar increased in popularity as it drew in crowds across the central coast of California. These features, along with the banquet room, served as a venue for birthdays, weddings, quinceañeras and more. Today, the banquet room has transformed into an arcade three times the size as the original arcade Rancho Bowl started with.
Today, Rancho Bowl’s legacy continues the traditions it began with and has evolved into an entertainment hub for families to experience an updated bowling alley, arcade, restaurant, a bar equipped with drink specials and a party room -- all in one place.
The 32 lanes still remain in the bowling alley, however, it has recently been remodeled and refurbished with couches and coffee tables. Each lane has also gone through major technology upgrades with LCD touch screen consoles, LCD flat screen TV’s, integrated cameras, and even connection with Facebook so bowlers can share the fun on social media.
Rancho Bowl continues its impressive entertainment evolution and remains busier than ever as it serves Santa Maria Valley and beyond. For the 60th anniversary celebration, the Rancho Bowl team plans to celebrate much more than the journey they’ve gone through since Mili established its roots in 1959; they plan to celebrate the support, love and relationships they’ve developed throughout this journey.
“We want to give back to a community that has given us so much over the past 60 years,” said Ashlee Carranza. Giving back to the community is exactly what the Rancho Bowl team intends to do for this 60th anniversary celebration.
Starting April 8, 2019, Rancho Bowl will be launching the Rancho Bowl 60th Anniversary Mural Contest to showcase “The History of Santa Maria,” which will be opened to interested artists through June 1, 2019. Over the years, Santa Maria has seen drastic changes in its business landscape as businesses have either opened or moved towards Betteravia Road, away from Rancho Bowl’s side of town.
“We want to revitalize the beauty on our end of town,” said Carranza. “...and I think a big mural will help beautify this part of Santa Maria.” Applications are open to any artists who are interested in portraying what they deem are important aspects of Santa Maria’s history that they believe should be preserved.
History and traditions are significant aspects to Rancho Bowl’s journey. Preserving the beauty behind the roots that were established is essential for the team -- not only to honor the legacy Mili Aquistipace left behind, but to celebrate the future that lays ahead for the Santa Maria Valley Community.
“My father was so respected in the community and carrying on his legacy is an honor,” Murray explained. “It’s a blessing to be able to continue his passion for that and to have a mural painted honoring the community we’ve been a part of for the past 60 years.”