Jim Barton brings Saratoga Lanes back from slump

The clattering of bowling pins and pool balls carries down the stairs of Saratoga Lanes, accompanied by the chatter of friends. Jim Barton, owner for nearly thirty years, helped bring those familiar noises back to the bowling alley. He has been bringing them back every day since then.

By Jessica Clones

(Maplewood, MO) Saratoga Lanes was founded in 1916 in Maplewood. However, the business wasn’t always owned by Jim Barton.

About thirty years ago, Barton was asked to take over half of the business. His position was only temporary, but when business started booming he had a choice to make.

Saratoga Lanes’ old-fashioned ball returns

“After 6 months, I kind of turned the business around. So then I said, ‘Am I gonna buy the other half or am I gonna do something else?'” Barton said.

He had always wanted to own his own business. That’s why Barton decided to stay and the other owner sold him the other half of the business.

“I didn’t want to be in the rat race, you know. I didn’t want to be in the corporate world. I wanted to do my own thing,” Barton said.

In order to make the business what it is today, Jim said he just had to clean Saratoga up and keep it that way.

“What’s cool about Saratoga is that Saratoga is cool. We didn’t like try to reinvent. It’s authentic. It’s, it is what it is. We just brought that out to the people,” Barton said.

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The old vending machine where you can buy cigarettes

Saratoga has old-fashioned ball returns and manual score keeping. The vending machine in the back allows you to buy socks, snacks, and cigarettes. The authenticity of the bowling alley is what Barton wanted to keep. He thinks that brings in authentic people.

“There’s no layers about everybody, right. You can bring the wealthiest people. We’ve got a lot of celebrities or professional players, right. The come, they love it because it bring their air down. Saratoga just brings people down,” Barton said.

The vintage bowling alley and the authentic customers go hand in hand for Barton. That was what he wanted to bring out in Saratoga when he became owner. Barton’s plans succeeded and now the bowling alley is celebrating its 101st birthday.


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