So far the only things these two bowling alleys have in common are the bowling pins I received as invites-one to announce the opening and one to announce a name-changing party. Lucky Strike, the new, flashier spot, is so overwhelming in scale, it’s easy to lose the party you came in with amid the multitude of entertainment options-18 bowling lanes, 11 tournament-size pool tables, 22 plasma TVs, a state-of-the-art sports scoreboard, video monitors, and five fireplaces in the cozy back wine bar.
The menu-which was created with help from Along Came Mary, an L.A.–based event production company that caters many Hollywood movie premières-is several notches above greasy bar food.
On the other hand, the spotty service almost had us eating our spiffy bowling shoes in between matches. But if the popularity of the original Lucky Strike Lanes in Tinseltown is any indication-Jared Leto and Ashley Olsen, Chris Rock, and even Rob Reiner have been spotted at that one recently-the Chicago outpost, the chain’s tenth and largest, will compete against its local counterparts. Of course, bigger also means pricier: on a Friday or Saturday night past 9 p.m., you’ll drop $65 an hour for a lane, $14 an hour for a pool table.
At the opening party for Lucky Strike Lanes, I ran into Geoff Stults, who was in town filming The Break Up with Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn (Stults plays Aniston’s boyfriend in the film). When I asked if his costars were in fact an item, he replied, “I asked on behalf of my mom-and they both laughed, like, Are you retarded?” Stults also appeared in The Wedding Crashers with Vaughn. “I can’t keep from laughing on the set from Vince-he’s always joking around,” he told me, adding, “Vince gets Cubs tickets for me.” Ahh, the perks of celebritydom. Later that night, Stults met up with me at Reserve. . . . Charlize Theron and Goldie Hawn both dined at Japonais on the same night in September, with separate parties. Hawn was with friends and had cocktails on the riverwalk, while Theron, in town to appear on “Oprah,” stayed upstairs and enjoyed chef’s specials with guests.