Nostalgia: Baron Fazzio’s Bowling Fascination
One man’s passion became a family empire.
In 1941, Dom Fazzio opened Fazzio’s Bowling Alley, located at 1301 N. Rampart St. His tongue-in-cheek comment was that he loved bowling so much that he wanted to be sure he’d always have an alley at the ready. Known as the “Baron of Rampart Street,” he became so ubiquitous to bowling in New Orleans that Fazzio’s was mentioned in the novel A Confederacy of Dunces.
His passion turned into a family empire. In the span of 45 years he opened six additional alleys: Sugar Bowl Lanes at 2909 Franklin Ave., Fazzio’s Recreation Center at 829 St. Charles Ave. and Algiers’ Bridge Bowl, 2000 Behrman Ave., in New Orleans; Arabi Bowl, 7265 St. Bernard Highway; Fazzio’s Garden Bowl, 551 W. Good Children St. in Chalmette; and Fazzio’s Rainbow Lanes in East New Orleans at 5555 Bullard Ave.
Fazzio changed bowling in New Orleans, promoting it as a family sport by providing snack bars, lounges, pro shops and even nurseries at his facilities. He started leagues at every location, including programs for women, youth, the handicapped and the blind, and often sponsored charity events.
The 32-lane Bridge Bowl, opened in 1966 near the bridge toll plaza at the foot of the Greater New Orleans Bridge (now the CCC), was his self-proclaimed favorite. At the opening and each anniversary for a few years, they gave away Fazzio doubloons. It closed in the late 1970s to make way for the expanded bridge.
An impressive bowler himself, Dom Fazzio won the Southern Championship in 1942 and the state doubles championship with George Nami in 1968. He was on the board of state and local Bowling Proprietors Associations from the 1950s to 1970s. He was named to the National Pioneers of American Bowling Club in 1970. In 1976, he was inducted into the Louisiana State Bowling Assoc. Hall of Fame and the Louisiana Italian American Sports Hall of Fame in 1989, two years after his death at age 85.
Fazzio’s Recreation Center on St. Charles Avenue in 1965. It featured pool and ping pong tables alongside its 16 lanes. Fazzio brought the latest in bowling alley equipment to his establishments, and Sugar Bowl Lanes was the first in the South to have automatic ball return. At the same time, he respected tradition; when his N. Rampart Street location closed in 1962, it was the last in the area to have pinboys in the new era of the automatic pinspotters.