The Rich History of Ryan Family Amusements

In 1958, James A. Ryan purchased what would become the first Ryan Family Amusements location when he was just a teenager. Ryan was still attending Boston University when he bought the bowling alley in Needham and worked day and night until he could hire a night manager.

Ryan Family Amusements quickly expanded to multiple locations. The first location on Cape Cod opened in Falmouth during the 1960s. Over the years he has opened bowling centers in Quincy, Watertown, Falmouth, Avon, Raynham, Buzzards Bay, South Yarmouth, Malden, Hyannis, Boston, Millis and Middletown RI and game rooms in the Cape Cod Mall, Emerald Square Mall, Martha’s Vineyard and Newport RI.

At one point, bowling was a huge sport across the country. Bowling leagues were a popular social pastime and business at Ryan Family Amusements boomed. “I remember a time when the only way you could bowl if you weren’t in a league would be on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. The leagues were so popular they took over all the lanes on weeknights,” said Rob Nichols, partner at Ryan Family Amusements.

When Ten Pin bowling was popular all over the world, candlepin bowling was the game of choice on Cape Cod. Rob Nichols grew up in western New York and hadn’t heard of Candlepin Bowling until he joined Ryan Family Amusements in 1977. “Ten Pin bowling, where I grew up was very popular, but Candlepin Bowling, which originated in Worcester, Massachusetts, was and is very popular here on the Cape and in the New England region.”

During the late 80s, the popularity of bowling declined, but a new pastime emerged that became a big hit for Ryan Family Amusements; video games. “When I first started, video games were just beginning. There were games like Pong and Break Out. Then a few years later, Space Invaders and Pac Man were introduced and from that point on gaming industry went crazy,” said Mr. Nichols.

Mr. Ryan not only added video and redemption games to his locations, but also started a service division. To this day, Ryan Family Amusements services and supplies amusements games to family entertainment centers, hotels, sports bars, camp grounds and restaurants. The service department is on duty 24/7 ensuring maximum revenues for location partners.

In recent years, bowling has increased in popularity again. “Although leagues are still a very important part of our business, the new trend is family bowling. We’ve seen a switch from it being a league sport to a family outing,” said Mr. Nichols.

Over the years, Ryan Family Amusements have seen several changes, but many of the same customers stay the same. “We’ve had generations of families come in especially down in Falmouth, because that was Mr. Ryan’s first location. They come in and they say, “I came here as a kid, now I’m bringing my kids and my grandkids”, said Mr. Nichols. It’s not uncommon for Ryan Family Amusements to host retirement parties for customers who remember having their birthday parties or even first date at one of the centers.

New for Ryan Family Amusements is the addition of player cards. Customers can load points and money to the card which can be used at multiple locations across the Cape and South Shore. “We really wanted to go green and be more environmentally friendly. We were going through millions of tickets,” said Mr. Nichols. In addition, we try to encourage our customers to register their cards, so that we could replace the card if it was ever lost or stolen.

Make sure you visit Ryan Family Amusements this summer. Right now, if you register your card online, BONUS game play in the amount of $5 will automatically be loaded onto your card within a day or two. Rain or shine, night or day, Ryan Family Amusements is the place to play!

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About Rebecca Romo

Rebecca Romo hosts Feel Good Mornings weekday mornings from 6-10 am on 99.9 The Q. Originally from New Orleans, she moved to Cape to be with her husband a second generation Cape Codder.
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Hyannis, MA 02601
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