Member Profile – Bowl Incline
November 10, 2022 | Kayla Anderson
Originally published in the Holiday Issue of the LIVE.WORK.PLAY magazine, view it here.
On a midday Friday afternoon, the two giant bowling pins in a 4-10 split line the entrance of Bowl Incline. Inside, the Ohana Diner (featuring a menu designed by renowned chef Sam Choy) serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner in front of bowling lanes that are bright and welcoming, everything outfitted in a modern retro motif. Flat screen LED TVs throughout the alley show the latest sports games and are perfect screens, meaning it’s the best resolution you will find. One room has three pool tables, another has an arcade with crane machines, basketball hoops, and floor-to-ceiling PAC-MAN. Outside on the main floor is another open-air bar, an enclosed patio with community-engraved pavers, with bocce ball and cornhole. The newly retrofitted Bowl Incline also has a second floor now holding another bar, original quality Henry Miller tables imported from England, and two axe-throwing lanes.
Saddling up to the bar, the amicable bartender says that the most popular cocktails are the Sour Strike, “it’s like a flavored vapor”, and any of the Ballers are good as well as the Double Wood margarita because of the Li Hing Mui salted rim.
While talking about the drinks, owner Steve Tomkovicz warmly greets me and gives me a tour.
The Tomkoviczes have had a house in Incline Village for 12 years, moving here full time during the pandemic from the Bay Area. “The restrictions weren’t as bad here; we could take walks on the golf course,” he says. He and his wife Tracy rebuilt Bowl Incline, gutting the interior, tearing off the roof, getting new bowling equipment, furniture, and basically modernizing the space. The only thing they kept was the name.
Steve launched his first business when he was 10 years old, selling flowers on freeway offramps in East LA to support his mom. He went to colleges on football and rugby scholarships, always working three jobs. In 1983 he started an industrial supply company, and it took off; he had 350 employees and 10 locations across the country, doing $240 million in sales.
Then four years ago, his doctor told him that he had an enlarged aorta that could rupture at any time. Knowing that his life could be cut short at any moment, Steve reevaluated his priorities and thus sold his company to move to Lake Tahoe.
However, Tomkovicz isn’t the kind of man to sit around and wait for his heart to burst. He has been a hard worker his entire life and loves to be involved in his community and build teams. When his family moved to Incline, he saw a “For Sale” sign in front of Bowl Incline and decided that this would be his new passion project (although he admits that he’s still sad that he sold the industrial supply company that he built out of a pickup truck).
He emphasizes that money is not the driver in this venture, that he wants to provide a place for families and friends to go to disconnect from technology and connect with each other.
“We need to change how we de-stress, how we connect,” he says.
A spiritual man, Steve embodies Bowl Incline’s motto, “Peace. Love. Bowl.”, which is found on staff shirts and signs throughout the alley.
“Everyone has to treat everyone well in here. I’m a pretty simple person but complex in how I do business because everyone has to treat each other with love and respect,” he says.
The property included an apartment complex across the street, too, and they could’ve knocked down the bowling alley and built more housing but felt like if they did that then they’d be losing a huge community asset. Local businesses rent out the upstairs area for private parties, they regularly have live music, and their bowling leagues filled up fast.
Steve loves dancing and says that he envisions hosting community events up in the lounge. He’d like to do a Frank Sinatra birthday celebration, invite people up to do some swing or dancing.
“This is a community space. Up here (in Incline Village) when the lights go out, there’s nowhere to go. Most places close at 8 or 9pm,” he says.
Bowl Incline supports charity nights, hospital events, and provides another place to celebrate besides the Chateau and the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe. Kids from the Incline schools even come clean the parking lot in exchange for bowling sessions.
“We’re always thinking about how to give this community a center to celebrate life.”
And it truly is a family affair; Steve’s daughter Allison runs events, his son-in-law Josh runs the bars, and his wife Tracy is the financial wizard/operations manager. Throughout our tour, his son Steven is down on the first-floor bowling.
“Everything is new and it’s exciting for us. This is a place where you feel loved; and we have love for the Tahoe area. If we can create all that love between families and team members, this will be successful.
“I’m proud of what we’re doing. I’m 68 with a bum ticker and if I get to live around this and help people connect and practice kindness, then I’m good. Hopefully, we’re building a vision of love, excitement, and an escape from life but not each other,” Steve adds.
For more information about Bowl Incline, go to www.bowlincline.com or visit the alley in person at 920 Southwood Boulevard in Incline Village.