Even in a fiercely competitive economic market, local businesses can still succeed—after all, Lucky Jack’s has served Traverse City residents for more than 50 years. If you have spent time in Traverse City, chances are you have met a Mohrhardt.
Following the belief if you take care of your customers, they will take care of you, the family has been a foundation in the national bowling industry for over half a century. Lucky Jack’s is the next chapter for the Mohrhardts, as the next generation of Americans discovers how to have family fun.
Who is Lucky Jack? (Yes, he was a real person)
John (Jack) and Evelyn Mohrhardt were married in Saginaw, Mich. on August 31, 1940. They spent their honeymoon at the Park Place Hotel in Traverse City. While Jack built an automobile dealership from the ground up, Evelyn stayed at home and raised eight children and numerous cats and dogs. Although the family frequently vacationed in Traverse City and the surrounding area, the Mohrhardts did not move up to Northern Michigan immediately. It was not until a business associate of Jack’s, who was in the process of building a new bowling center in Saginaw, mentioned to Jack that modern bowling was becoming a very popular new sport in the US that the Mohrhardts saw their opportunity. After mentioning this to Evelyn, Jack and Evelyn sold their business and moved their family to Traverse City in 1961.
Partnering with two other longtime friends, the Mohrhardts built Timber Lanes Bowling, a 24-lane center on South US 31 in Traverse City that opened on October 7, 1961. It was about 1½ miles south of 14th Street and Division on South US 31. One critic initially said, “It was so far out of town that people would not drive that far to bowl.” But nevertheless Jack and Evelyn succeeded, buying out their partners by 1965; Jack continued to operate the bowling center while Evelyn maintained the family home. Eventually, the town spread out to and past Timber Lanes.
All of the Mohrhardt children worked in the bowling center at one time or another. Sons Mike and David came to work full time at the bowling lanes in 1969 and 1971 respectively. With their help, Timber Lanes soon began to fill up with leagues, tournaments and open bowling. Along with this came live entertainment at the Lincoln Lounge. Jack and his sons added eight more bowling lanes and a 300-seat nightclub in 1974. Through the years, Timber Lanes and the Lincoln Lounge offered a gathering place for many friends and families in the Traverse City area. “Snookers Billiards,” an upscale billiards room, was added in 1990. Then, in 1996, an agreement was signed with the Meijer chain to sell the bowling center and property. Timber Lanes was closed on May 10, 1998.
While it could have been the end of the Mohrhardt bowling era in Traverse City, Mike and David instead purchased the Wildwood Bowling Center. After a major renovation, the Mohrhardts reopened the bowling center under the name Timber Lanes on August 17, 1998. Because Jack was now 88 years old, however, he decided to retire and take more trips with Evelyn. In 2005, Mike and David noticed that a new type of bowling centers termed FECs, short for “Family Entertainment Centers,” were gaining popularity. Built mostly in the southern and western United States, FECs combined gaming, food, bowling and FUN for the whole family.
Once again, it was time for a change in Traverse City bowling. After four years of planning and visiting many new FECs around the country, the Mohrhardts developed a new concept for Timber Lanes. It included a completely new brand and a name change to Lucky Jack’s after founder Jack Mohrhardt.
David Mohrhardt and Family