Mancelona Lanes sold; new owners carry on welcoming tradition

Joanie Moore, Contributing Writer

Photo by Joanie Moore

Rod and Nita Gaultier (left) hand the Mancelona Lanes keys over to its new owners, Dawn and Andy Fisher.  The Fishers took over the business in December.


MANCELONA – After nearly 40 years of operating Mancelona Lanes in Mancelona, owners Rod and Nita Gaultier recently decided that it’s time to rest.

“Last October I had a stroke,” said Rod. “I came through it, went home to recuperate, and got back to pretty much normal, but it was a little hint to me that maybe it’s time to retire.”

Many friends, family and years-long customers gathered last Saturday to celebrate the Gaultier’s achievements and welcome new owners, Dawn and Andy Fisher.

The Gaultiers had originally purchased Mancelona Lanes from the Nofsingers in 1979.

“Right from the start they proved to be personable, caring people making the transition easy for everyone,” said long-time friend and customer Harriet Northup. She organized the surprise retirement party and is also the new owners’ mother.

In the early 1980s Rod and Nita formed the “chocolate milk and cookie” league, designed for little ones who wanted to learn how to bowl.

“They would bowl half of a game and need a break,” Nita recalled, “so we gave them milk and cookies, and then they would go back and finish their game.”

She said a lot of those kids became their top bowlers, and are now on the adult leagues.

Northup said Rod had a pro shop inside the lanes and was the “go to” man for anyone wanting to have bowling balls fitted and drilled. Nita loved having the youth leagues and treated each of the kids like her own, she said.

Over the years, bowling and lane surface rules have changed and equipment has gotten much better, but one element always remained the same.

“It wasn’t very often that we saw a 300 game,” said Gaultier.

He recalled Don Grody, Jr., as the first customer to bowl a 300 after he and Nita purchased the business.

“I still get that fast heartbeat any time anyone is close to a 300 game,” he said. “The thrill is still there and the bowler has rubber legs when they get up there.”

The fun, friendly atmosphere kept bowlers returning.

“Rod’s friendly banter with the bowlers always brought smiles and laughter, and made everyone feel like family,” Northup recalled. “Even out-of-towners coming for the first time were treated to their welcoming attitude.”

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