Chesterton Tribune



Bowling alley closed again; this time maybe for good

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Not quite 12 months ago, early in July 2013, Tony and Evelyn Ello, owners of Westchester Lanes, announced the imminent closure of their business, due to “a huge lack of interest in having a bowling center in Chesterton.”

Two weeks later, Seven Peaks, the new owner of the old Splash Down Dunes water park in Porter--announced that it was acquiring the bowling alley and would operate it as a family fun center, along the line of three others owned by Seven Peaks in Utah.

Now the bowling alley--rechristianed Seven Peaks Fun Center Chesterton--is closed again and a For Sale sign has been posted on the property.

And once more there is no bowling in Chesterton, this time possibly for good.

There are two versions of how this came to pass, Seven Peaks’ and the Elloes’.

Begin with Matthew Phair, general manager of Seven Peaks Waterpark Porter, who told the Chesterton Tribune on Monday that the Elloes changed the locks on the building after a “disagreement”--a “discrepancy”--over the terms of Seven Peaks’ lease-to-purchase contract.

The Elloes “told us that if we didn’t do what they wanted us to do, they would change the locks and move us out,” Phair said.

Phair declined to specify, however, the condition which he says the Elloes placed on Seven Peaks or to discuss in any further detail the “disagreement.”

“They didn’t want us there,” Phair said. “We wanted to continue to move forward. This wasn’t our decision, trust me. We wanted to run the bowling alley for the community and as part of our pass. We would like to stay there. We would like to operate the bowling alley along with the water park.”

“We were paying on time,” Phair added, “paying the interest and the principle. And they decided they wanted to go in a different direction.”

Evelyn Ello, on the other hand, called Phair’s account altogether “inaccurate” and referred the Tribune to the Elloes’ attorney, Amir Tahmassebi, who said that Seven Peaks failed to fulfill the terms of its contract with the Elloes.

That contract--a 13-year triple-net lease under which Seven Peaks is required to pay all applicable taxes, insurance, and maintenance--also required Seven Peaks to post a $75,000 bond “concurrent with the lease or as practicable as thereafter,” Tahmassebi told the Tribune.

Nearly a year later, that bond--analagous to a security deposit on the property--has not been posted by the company, Tahmassebi said.

“It is my understanding Seven Peaks chose to leave,” Tahmassebi said. “It was the decision of Seven Peaks to attempt some type of termination of that lease. They were required to put down a bond, which they never did. It was nothing more than that.”

“Every obligation under the lease was fulfilled by the Elloes,” Tahmassebi said. “The Elloes were prepared to have Seven Peaks there for the entire 13 years. They wanted Seven Peaks to be there. They wanted Seven Peaks to do well.”

“And I’ve been retained to take the appropriate legal action under the terms of the lease,” Tahmassebi added.

As of this morning Seven Peaks Water Park Porter had not yet removed “Seven Peaks Bowling & Fun Center”--“where the fun never ends”--from the automated switchboard options which a person hears when he calls the water park at (260) 627-4484.

A handwritten sign on the door of the bowling reads “Closed. Please see Seven Peaks Water Park on Hwy 20 Porter to redeem passes.”



Posted 6/17/2014




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