It’s not colossus, but Mt. Mesa Lanes keeps the ride rolling  

Dan Mayfield, Gabby Mayfield, Mike Clanton are the three people that make Mt. Mesa Lanes run. Submitted photo.

Story by Ray Conner

The little place that could! Mt. Mesa Lanes is still thriving despite its roller coaster ride.

About seven years ago, Gabriella “Gabby” Mayfield purchased the lanes to keep the bowling alley open. She had a two-fold dream in this endeavor. For one, she wanted a place she could practice as she was a recent college graduate and now was a bowler on the women’s pro tour. The second reason was to keep bowling alive in the valley.

Some of the obstacles she faced are the expenses. The utilities and the equipment. And sometimes dealing with those that are not willing to abide by the house rules. Mayfield said, “You have to deal with people that don’t understand you only have two hands.”

For three years everything was rolling along, her dad, Dan and her mom Chris was helping running the place. The menial tasks that are behind the scenes had to be done daily. From the bar order to the food order, to keeping the equipment in shape. They performed theses tasks with a little help also from a lane technician to fix the problems with the alleys. Leagues were filled and the bowling competitive. Mayfield said, “I wanted to give league bowlers a place to compete and establish themselves as bowlers. If we didn’t have our leagues’ we would not have been able to stay open. The league bowlers are the most important people that come in here. You know that you’re a league bowler. (she was referring to this writer who does love to bowl)” 

Gabby Mayfield was competing on the tour, until and injury sidelined her and in this came about her passion to continue to give the valley a place to bowl. With the tour off the table an area that she still misses seven years later. When asked about not being able to bowl on the pro tour Mayfield said, “It’s been hard. A lot of soul searching and being sad. I got over it. Now I’m trying to get our younger generation into it. Get them bowling, get them away from the computer. Do I wish I could go back and bowl? Yeah, but God is obviously calling me to cook for a lot of people and make them happy with that. This pretty much what supports us through the day.” 

When asked what the hardest thing about not being able to bowl anymore? Mayfield commented, “That’s a rough question. Not being able to go out on tour and travel to be with my friends. It’s been very hard. I had to put mind over matter and make it about the business.”

Fast forward to the pandemic. It rolled in and just about frustrated her plans. But with a resilience and a fortitude that made her successful on the lanes, she went into adapt mode. The team of Mayfield’s and Mike Clanton combined their efforts to survive this hardship. Gabby turned to another passion, making one the best places to eat. She is famous for her take out dishes. The game plan was for her to cook and Clanton be the runner and serve those that called in to order her delicious food. She credits this as her way of keeping the place running despite the overwhelming adversities that lay before her. 

As the restrictions started to lift and the lanes once again operating, things began to rise up in a positive manner. League bowlers flocked back and once more the sounds of bowling balls could be heard crashing into the pins filled Mt. Mesa Lanes. Currently league bowling is on Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The lanes are closed Tuesday and Wednesday. Saturday is the youth/adult league. In some cases, two leagues are held the same day. Usually, one in the afternoon and then one at night.

Turn the page to 2024 and the little place that could, has survived the roller coaster ride and continues to flourish both with the bowling and the food. Mayfield continues to push out a menu that people want to try. And another year of successful winter league of bowling has just wrapped up. 

Mayfield commenting on how the place operates she said, “We fly by the seat of our pants. Dad (Dan) Mayfield runs the bar, I run the kitchen and Mike (Clanton) makes sure the place is clean. Dad and Mike also take care of the lanes. I could not run the place by myself.” 

When asked what it’s been like Mayfield said, “It has had a lot of ups and downs. It’s been crazy. We’ve made it through the good times and the bad. Covid closed us for almost two years. We opened back up and now it’s been busy ever since.”

Open bowling is an option for those looking to try this sport. When asked about open bowling Mayfield commented, “Sometimes Saturdays are busy because of parties and kids are out of school. Now that it’s summertime it’s going to be even busier.”  

One of the things she used to do is drilling balls for bowlers. She misses that too. She said, “When you drill a ball for someone and they shoot a 300 do you know how good a feeling it is for you.? I got them matched up and they are shooting high scores. But like I said God is obviously calling me to the kitchen.”

When asked what message she would like to put out to the community Mayfield said, “We love everybody. We hope when they come in, they have a good time. We bless God every day.” 

With nothing but upside for those that patronize Mt. Mesa Lanes, it seems obvious that despite the hardships that go along with operating this kind of business, the future remains bright. The sport of bowling will be remain a part of the Kern River Valley, and Mt. Mesa Lanes is the happening place.