Ever since Cloverleaf Lanes opened in 1958, the scuffed Lustre King custom ball conditioner has been sitting there next to the cranky Art Deco vending machine that dispenses wrist supports, rosin bags, and tinfoil packets of Smooth Slide, which is guaranteed to fix sticky soles. And then y'got'chur baggies full of cracked ice floating in a thousand pitchers of beer. Y'got'chur teams of hair-netted cooks all dressed up like frazzled Little League mothers, slapping fresh meat patties on a grill, slicing tomatoes, and building $2.95 burger baskets. Y'got'chur Hank Williams, Jr., sharing jukebox real estate in the Emerald Isle Bar with Lauryn Hill and various hip-hop crews. There's also karaoke on Fridays and Saturdays. Y'got'chur pool tables, your arcade, and your video games that pay off in Bowling Bucks, which buy anything on the premises except booze and tobacco. Y'got'chur 37th Annual Tournament of the Americas scheduled for August, featuring bowlers from as many as 26 countries. They'll compete for trophies, not cash. Y'got'chur 50 lanes, all nicely rebuilt in 1997, and fancy graphics that keep your score and even show you how to make your split. And you can get your ball drilled at the pro shop.
But what you've really got is a community atmosphere full of cheerful, sweaty camaraderie that fits as comfortably as an old bowling glove. The Romaniks , who bought the place in 1977, encourage a friendly, family- run atmosphere. It's a good advertisement for Miami: a peaceful ethnic stew where everyone is shooting either for a place on the south wall's Hall of Fame or for one of those plaques scattered hither and yon that honor both living and dead local bowlers.