Kona Lanes was a bowling center in Costa Mesa, California, from 1958 to 2003. Known for its "Space Age" design, it featured 40 wood-floor bowling lanes, a game room, a lounge, and a coffee shop (later the Island Grill and finally a Mexican diner). Built during the heyday of Googie architecture, its Polynesian Tiki styling extended from the massive roadside neon sign to the building's "flamboyant neon lights and ostentatious rooflines meant to attract motorists like moths."
Kona Lanes was one of the last remaining examples of the Googie style in the region; when it was demolished, only Java Lanes in Long Beach remained until it was razed in 2004. Following a sale of much of the equipment, the building housing Kona Lanes was leveled while the distinctive sign was saved and sent to Cincinnati, Ohio, for inclusion in the American Sign Museum.
During public hearings on the future of the site, members of Costa Mesa's planning commission originally approved a proposal to build a department store. Following public outcry, those plans were scrapped in favor of senior apartments and commercial development.
Historic Roadside Sign:
The huge, neon-lit KONA LANES BOWL sign was featured in such publications as The Book of Tiki and Tiki Road Trip. It inspired professional paintings, an unofficial T-shirt, and an effort led by then-Costa Mesa Planning Commissioner Katrina Foley to save it from the scrap heap.
Thanks in part to a private donation, the marquee was trucked 2,500 miles to Cincinnati, one of the first 20 signs accepted by the American Sign Museum. The KONA LANES portion was refurbished and is now on display; the larger BOWL section buckled and tore during the unloading process and could not be saved.