HOUGHTON - The Mine Shaft and Rock House Hardwood Grille is the Upper Peninsula's premier family-friendly bowling, entertainment center and restaurant.
"The direction we're taking is that we are a family-oriented place where parents can feel comfortable bringing their kids and families can enjoy coming in to eat," Paul Kreins said. "We are focused on developing that side of the business."
Kreins, who is a consultant in the bowling industry and a new managing partner at The Mine Shaft, along with his son Ben, and Derek Bradway, said his expertise is in turnaround situations. When he made a visit to The Mine Shaft in April, from his hometown in Seattle, Wash., he saw the awesome potential the business had in the Keweenaw.
Photos courtesy The Mine Shaft
"A facility like this is important, especially in a smaller community where there are fewer entertainment options," he said. "This is something really special and I think the community will really get behind it given the opportunity."
Kreins said they took over as the new managers July 11 and have upgraded and improved every aspect of the business.
Open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday, The Mine Shaft offers a wide variety of entertainment for all ages. Eighteen bowling lanes, a large redemption arcade, virtual roller coaster, pro-shop, go-carts, miniature golf and a restaurant/sports bar is what guests can enjoy all at one location.
"It's a comfortable, family-friendly restaurant with excellent hand-crafted food," Kreins said. "We have everything from hand-cut steaks to great salads, incredible burgers, ribs and, we have our homemade special recipe barbecue sauce."
Also on the menu is fresh Lake Superior whitefish, homemade pizzas made from hand-tossed dough, signature french onion soup, as well as a soup of the day. Their deep-fried items, like the fish and chips, onion rings and breaded mushrooms are freshly hand-battered.
Kids' meals come with a $5 arcade card, Kreins said, and they're also going to be introducing a late-night menu for after 9 p.m.
Guests will find the bar area comfortable and casual with 14 large screen TVs providing all major sports packages. Food and drink specials are available during Sunday and Monday night football games.
Families can take advantage of Dollar Days on Sunday during which games of bowling, shoes, drinks and hot dogs are $1 each.
The Mine Shaft is an ideal venue for birthday, company, holiday parties, wedding receptions, fund-raisers, school field trips and other group outings, which Kreins said they're looking to do more of.
Birthday packages are available and include food, beverages, bowling, shoes, decorations, a personal party host and much more.
"We have a slogan, 'At The Mine Shaft you are never too old to have fun,'" he said. "Kids of any age - children, teens and adults - can have their birthdays here."
Company and birthday parties are hosted events and the friendly staff members go out of their way to accommodate.
"What's nice about having a company party here is that it's interactive," Kreins said. "We can do the food on the lanes, or they can have it in the banquet room. Either way, guests are interacting with each other, having fun."
The Mine Shaft has lots of exciting events and plans in store for the near future, starting Dec. 3 with the appearance of professional bowler Mika Koivuniemi, who is currently the No. 1 bowler in the world. Koivuniemi, who also happens to be Finnish, will be conducting clinics, demonstrations and meeting with the public.
"Getting Mika here was a huge thing for us," Kreins explained. "My son Ben and Mika shared the same bowling coach for many years, so we had an inside track to getting the best bowler in the world to visit the U.P."
This summer, The Mine Shaft will start its "Say No to Drugs, Say Yes to Bowling" program, in which each student in the community will receive a card entitling them to one free game of bowling every day from May 1 through Aug. 31.
"It's a way for us to give back to the community and give the kids something to do in the summer in a safe environment," he said. "I would expect it will be very popular here."
Looking down the road, Kreins said they're planning to expand the entertainment center to incorporate a convention center at the back of the building, an indoor water park and a two-screen movie theater.
"But one of the first things we're going to do is bring back the Mine Shaft bus," he added.
The Mine Shaft is also becoming more active in the outside community through its involvement with organizations such as Keweenaw Economic Development Alliance, the Keweenaw Peninsula Chamber of Commerce and Houghton Rotary Club.
"We feel we're an important part of the community and in turn, need to give back to the community," he said. "For example, we did a Youth Bowling Day Saturday. It was a free instructional program and we had more than 100 kids participate."
Kreins, who has 35 years of experience in the bowling industry and has owned and operated bowling centers all over the country, said he has known Bradway since the early '90s when he was a client of his. When the opportunity to take over the Mine Shaft came up, Bradway contacted Kreins to see if he'd be interested in getting involved. "Derek and I have very similar philosophies about marketing, promotion and business development," said Kreins. "This facility was Derek's vision and brainchild. We both recognize its potential and its importance to the community. I'm very happy to be a part of its revival."
Kreins and Bradway, along with Kreins' son Ben, formed a new management company, WWJD Management, LLC, to oversee their new venture.
"We don't have a board of directors, we have a Board of Prayer," Kreins explained. "We run our business His way."
Both Paul and Ben are United States Bowling Congress Silver Level bowling coaches and members of the Professional Bowlers Association. Kreins even bowled full time on the professional bowlers tour from 1974 to 1976. He has one PBA title.
And, while Kreins said they're planning to be a part of The Mine Shaft for the long-term, he sees a bright future for the facility.
"We're focusing on quality food, extraordinary service and our family atmosphere," he said.
The Mine Shaft is located at 915 Razorback Drive in Houghton, behind Wal-Mart next to the Country Inn and Suites. Call 482-1230. For more information, or to sign up for the birthday club, visit mineshaftfun.com.
Editor's note: This feature is part of a paid advertising package purchased by The Mine Shaft and Rock House Hardwood Grille of Houghton. Businesses interested in being featured on the Business page may call Yvonne Robillard at 483-2220.