Not quite 12 months
ago, early in July 2013, Tony and Evelyn Ello, owners of Westchester Lanes,
announced the imminent closure of their business, due to “a huge lack of
interest in having a bowling center in Chesterton.”
Two weeks later,
Seven Peaks, the new owner of the old Splash Down Dunes water park in
Porter--announced that it was acquiring the bowling alley and would operate
it as a family fun center, along the line of three others owned by Seven
Peaks in Utah.
Now the bowling
alley--rechristianed Seven Peaks Fun Center Chesterton--is closed again and
a For Sale sign has been posted on the property.
And once more there
is no bowling in Chesterton, this time possibly for good.
There are two
versions of how this came to pass, Seven Peaks’ and the Elloes’.
Begin with Matthew
Phair, general manager of Seven Peaks Waterpark Porter, who told the
Chesterton Tribune on Monday that the Elloes changed the locks on the
building after a “disagreement”--a “discrepancy”--over the terms of Seven
Peaks’ lease-to-purchase contract.
The Elloes “told us
that if we didn’t do what they wanted us to do, they would change the locks
and move us out,” Phair said.
Phair declined to
specify, however, the condition which he says the Elloes placed on Seven
Peaks or to discuss in any further detail the “disagreement.”
“They didn’t want
us there,” Phair said. “We wanted to continue to move forward. This wasn’t
our decision, trust me. We wanted to run the bowling alley for the community
and as part of our pass. We would like to stay there. We would like to
operate the bowling alley along with the water park.”
“We were paying on
time,” Phair added, “paying the interest and the principle. And they decided
they wanted to go in a different direction.”
Evelyn Ello, on the
other hand, called Phair’s account altogether “inaccurate” and referred the
Tribune to the Elloes’ attorney, Amir Tahmassebi, who said that Seven
Peaks failed to fulfill the terms of its contract with the Elloes.
13-year triple-net lease under which Seven Peaks is required to pay all
applicable taxes, insurance, and maintenance--also required Seven Peaks to
post a $75,000 bond “concurrent with the lease or as practicable as
thereafter,” Tahmassebi told the Tribune.
Nearly a year
later, that bond--analagous to a security deposit on the property--has not
been posted by the company, Tahmassebi said.
“It is my
understanding Seven Peaks chose to leave,” Tahmassebi said. “It was the
decision of Seven Peaks to attempt some type of termination of that lease.
They were required to put down a bond, which they never did. It was nothing
more than that.”
under the lease was fulfilled by the Elloes,” Tahmassebi said. “The Elloes
were prepared to have Seven Peaks there for the entire 13 years. They wanted
Seven Peaks to be there. They wanted Seven Peaks to do well.”
“And I’ve been
retained to take the appropriate legal action under the terms of the lease,”
As of this morning
Seven Peaks Water Park Porter had not yet removed “Seven Peaks Bowling & Fun
Center”--“where the fun never ends”--from the automated switchboard options
which a person hears when he calls the water park at (260) 627-4484.
A handwritten sign
on the door of the bowling reads “Closed. Please see Seven Peaks
Water Park on Hwy 20 Porter to redeem passes.”