Bringing back 'fun:' Entertainment businesses plan for reopening in Kansas

Published: May. 12, 2020 at 4:47 PM CDT
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The first phase of Kansas Governor Laura Kelly's gradual plan to reopen the state's economy does not yet give the green light for entertainment businesses to unlock their doors.

Places like movie theaters, bowling alleys and arcades have can reopen as soon as May 18, as part of the second phase to reopen Kansas. Among the popular spots hoping for a chance to reopen soon is The Alley in northeast Wichita.

Due to COVID-19, the venue for bowling, video games and food has been closed for about eight weeks.

The Alley General Manager Darren Needham says he and his staff are working hard to be able to open safely after Kansas moves on to Phase 2 of the reopening plan.

"The last two weeks, we've had our crew in here, basically cleaning everything," Needham says of the bowling venue he describes as "a high touch area." "We've cleaned it, (and) sanitized it. We've taken steps to minimize what people are going to have to touch."

Needham says The Alley has added a sanitizing station for bowling balls, and some employees will be designated as "sanitizers." With this role, they'll wipe down each surface arcade game and go-kart after each use. The Alley has also added a no-touch pay option to limit the spread of germs.

"We just want it to be safe for employees, safe for the customers," Needham says. "We understand it's probably going to be slow coming back, but we'll be ready for when people feel comfortable enough to come back. We're going to make sure everything is clean, and we're going to be ready for it."

Starlite Drive-In owner Blake Smith discussed similar steps for the unique venue in south Wichita to safely reopen during Phase 2.

"A lot of this stuff kind of gets us back to the basics that we were taught by our parents, you know. Stay at home (if you) don't feel well and after you go to the bathroom, wash your hands," he says. "And so that reiterating all of that."

While the reopening process will be gradual, The Alley Sales and Event Coordinator Brett Burns says the business is looking forward to again hosting larger events like birthday parties when it's safe to do so.

"We're really thinking June 1 is when we're going to be able to have some bigger group events, so definitely give us a call if you ever have any questions about that," Burns says.

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