World On Wheels. Back In the House!

June17wheels2 When World On Wheels, the bowling alley and Maria's Cafe closed in the summer of 2013,  a collective groan went up in Mid-City.  

Located where Pico, San Vicente and Venice meet, the AMF bowling center filed bankruptcy and shut down its Mid-City operation.  The skating rink, where family, friends and rivals came together to hang out, skate and grow up together, had been a longstanding community go-to place for over 30 years.  

While the upstairs space that housed the bowling alley and cafe eventually became the successful Planet Fitness, the skating rink on the lower level sat fallow for 4 years while community activists tried to appeal to the city and celebrities to revive it.   Snoop Dog sang about it in his 2011 song “The Way Life Used to Be.”  


Then along came Tommy Karas.  An experienced manager of clubs in Las Vegas, Miami and New York, he started scouting L.A. looking for a more low-key environment to create his own club, one that didn’t demand outrageous prices.  He found it when he discovered the rink.  With support from rapper Nipsey Hussle he signed the lease and began renovations. He's hoping to open  in the summer.  

June17WheelsThe changes won’t exactly duplicate the historical environment.   He is trying to secure a liquor license, and according to the LA Weekly, "much of the space today is unrecognizable from its past life. The multicolored carpeting has been torn out and replaced with sleek, dark flooring. The walls that were paneled with wood are now covered in graphic street-style murals painted by local artist Tonia Calderón, and there are now private rooms with with flat-screens, glass doors and club-style couches — a holdover from Karas’ days booking tables at nightclubs. The ceilings have been raised, the cafeteria is now a dining lounge that looks like something you might find in a Las Vegas casino, and the arcade games will soon include new offerings like virtual reality golf. (One fixture that remained intact is the DJ booth, where Karas hopes to enlist talent like Dre Sinatra and Don Cannon.)”

Local skaters, while eagerly looking forward to the opening as well as the upgrades to the admittedly deteriorated state of the old rink, hope this won’t mean unaffordable entrance fees for the kids and teens who are the final touch to the revival of this iconic community resource. 


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Established in August of 2008 by writerartist Dianne V. Lawrence, The Neighborhood News covers the events, people, history, politics and historic architecture of communities throughout the Mid-City and West Adams area in Los Angeles Council District 10.

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