The crack of the pins, the smell of beer and sweat, the laughter of teammates, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat; it’s League Night at Gutters Bowling Alley, and it’s more popular than ever.
At least three times per week, Gutters is home to some serious bowlers. In partnership with Taos Bowling Leagues (currently in the process of applying for their 501(c)(3) status as a nonprofit), Gutters works to develop bowling leagues and tournaments throughout the year.
League organizer Misty Bruce says that though the leagues are often populated by adults, one of the main goals is to promote the sport among youth. “People can bowl their whole lives,” she said. “So we really want to get them interested when they are young. We want to grow the sport.”
Bruce is not a professional coach or bowler, but her passion more than makes up for the lack of training. In fact, she is currently taking USBC coaching classes with constant improvement as her goal.
But that doesn’t mean the league participants need to make that commitment.
“You do not have to be a good bowler to play in the league,” Bruce says. “In fact, many are not very good at all. It’s just about having fun. All we ask is that you commit to the weekly schedule and fees.”
Gutters and Taos Bowling are all about fun and community. In that spirit, they offer leagues for all ages and skill sets.
On Sundays, at 12:30 p.m., Gutters owner Shelly Ratigan sets aside one end of her alley for the kiddos. The Youth League runs $150 per person (for the entire season) but it comes complete with trophies and a party. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the Adult Mixed leagues take over. Gutters is typically closed on Mondays, but this year Mondays are set aside for the Taos High School Tigers bowling team.
Bowling leagues have been a major part of the Gutters offerings since they first opened for business in January 2018. Of course, COVID put a damper on things. Taos’ only bowling alley was forced to close its doors on St. Patrick’s Day 2020. They didn’t open again until September 2020.
Ratigan isn’t new to the Taos business community. She is the former owner of the Northside Health & Fitness Center and a restaurant. As a longtime Taos business owner, Ratigan was anxious to reopen and get leagues going (safely) again. She knows the value of a community-centered activity like bowling.
“What I learned in the eight years I owned Northtown [restaurant] was that Taos appreciates a business that builds community. After selling the gym, I decided the one recreational activity missing in Taos was bowling."
Throughout the pandemic, Ratigan has been a strong proponent of small business and an outspoken advocate for community health. Now the leagues are back and Ratigan says they are as popular as ever.
“Oh yeah, they fill up,” she says, referring to the two lanes marked off for league play. Gutters is a 12-lane alley. “It’s really popular.”
Something else of note when considering league play. Yes, it’s all about the bowling and the camaraderie. But let’s not forget the food.
Gone are the days of soggy bowling alley nachos and burnt pizza. Gutters takes bowling food to the next level with Kyote Bites. This new restaurant is changing the way league bowlers (and every other Gutters bowler) thinks about alley food. With a kitchen operated by renowned local chef Ky Quintanilla and a menu that boasts gourmet items along with the nachos, league play at Gutters is all about fun, exercise and fine dining.
Bruce encourages anyone interested in becoming a coach to contact Taos Bowling Leagues.