Billy Hardwick’s All Star Lanes takes great pride in having been a family-owned-and-operated business for 35 years. And this sense of family throughout the culture of Billy Hardwick's All Star Lanes is consistently evident when Rebecca Hardwick, widow of the late Billy Hardwick, and her daughter, Kelly Frasure, talk about their bowling center and its history.
The fact that professional bowler and 18-time PBA title winner Billy Hardwick even landed in Memphis was a result of chance. After retiring relatively early from the PBA Tour, he moved to Jonesboro, AR for a job that eventually fell through. His solution was to move to the closest city with an airport – Memphis, TN. Billy spent a couple of years teaching and coaching in Memphis before he stumbled across the National Bowling Center. After gathering some investors, Billy purchased the bowling center in 1982 and Billy Hardwick’s All Star Lanes was born.
The bowling center quickly became centered on family. After years of working in the corporate world, Billy’s wife, Rebecca, came to work at the bowling center, and her daughter Kelly would soon join her. After a couple of jobs post-high school, Kelly found her way back to the bowling lanes, gradually assuming more responsibility until she realized she didn’t want to be anywhere else. “I couldn’t imagine going and being in a different setting,” she says. “I loved being here and being around the people, and I loved that it was our family always here. It just felt right.” Now Kelly, with a team of 24 employees, handles all of the day-to-day operations of the bowling center.
But family at Billy Hardwick’s doesn’t stop with Rebecca and her daughter. Kelly’s husband and son have also come on board, and the rest of the employees include many people who have worked with them more than a decade and have brought in their siblings, spouses, parents, and more to join the Billy Hardwick’s team in the process. Rebecca and Kelly understand the positive impact this has on their work culture and the spirit of Billy Hardwick’s. “It’s becoming even more family run,” Kelly says. “We have employees who have several family members here. As good as we think we are, we couldn’t do it without our employees. They take time to get to know the customers.”
One of the key pieces of the Billy Hardwick’s business is their strong base of league bowlers who come in to bowl weekly. While some bowling centers have let league play slack, Billy Hardwick’s has the strongest league base in the state. With women’s leagues, men’s leagues, junior bowling leagues, and many more, these bowlers come in for a dose of friendly competition anywhere from 9:30 in the morning to midnight. This regular base of customers gives Kelly and Rebecca the opportunity to form relationships with their regulars. “We try really hard to know our customers and meet them,” Kelly says. “I think that kind of sets us apart.” In addition to their league bowling, Billy Hardwick’s also hosts company outings and holiday parties as well as some practices for high school bowling teams.
Above all, Kelly and Rebecca strive to keep Billy’s memory alive and maintain what he started 35 years ago. Each year they host a memorial tournament, which will be a televised PBA event this year in honor of their 35th anniversary. During this time they also award scholarships to youth bowlers in Billy’s name. Kelly sums up the vision for Billy Hardwick’s All Star Lanes saying, “I think the biggest thing once Billy passed is to make sure that I keep his name and what he built. And that’s where I keep my direction – making sure his name is carried on.”