Wild Bill’s Wings & Bowling
The Cedar Bowl bowling alley and bar had been a source of entertainment and camaraderie for residents of North Platte for more than 30 years when it startled avid keglers by going out of business in May 2014.
Two of those surprised by the sudden closure were North Platte businessmen Lonnie Parsons and Gary Suhr. “I actually bowled on a team with the former owner,” recalls Suhr. “We knew he wanted to sell, but at the time, Lonnie and I had no intentions of buying the place.”
Cedar Bowl sat empty for about a month, until word got around of an out-of-town buyer who was interested. “That’s when I called Lonnie,” Suhr says. “We both felt strongly that it should be locally owned.”
So they went to see Charlie McPherson, director of the Nebraska Business Development Center (NBDC) office in North Platte, situated on the north campus of Mid-Plains Community College. McPherson immediately went to work and helped write the business plan that Parsons and Suhr presented to the City of North Platte.
After receiving some city funding in the form of a grant and a loan from the city council and a commercial loan, the two men purchased the building in July and began a nearly $3 million renovation project to transform Cedar Bowl into a new family destination, Wild Bill’s Wings & Bowling.
“We received approval and started renovating the place the next day,” Suhr says. “We knew we had to work fast so we could be open in time for fall leagues.”
That is one reason they sought the help of McPherson at the NBDC. “We had a very limited time frame, and Charlie did an outstanding job for us in such a short time,” Suhr says. “Without him, we never would have been able to get this done. He really went above and beyond to help us put our business plan together.”
Renovations were extensive. “We replaced all the lanes and we broke 10 lanes out,” Suhr says. “We went down from 32 lanes to 22, and we put an arcade where the 10 lanes had been.” They also put in a billiards room and a banquet room, and gutted the space that formerly held a bar and nightclub to make room for their new restaurant. “We redid pretty much everything in the place from the pinsetters forward,” he says.
Remarkably, the bowling alley opened for business on August 15. Wild Bill’s Wings restaurant opened September 1. The bowling alley features open bowling, league play, tournaments and popular weekly specials like cosmic bowling in the near-dark. The casual restaurant offers a full menu of homemade foods and a wide assortment of chicken wings with 25 different sauces including Caribbean jerk, hot chili and Asian.
Suhr says the hurried and hard work has proved worthwhile. “It’s been very well received,” he says. “We transformed it into a family atmosphere that everyone can come and enjoy.”