Thirty years ago I attended daycare at the Danville Bowl where the bar is now, and the feel and smell of the building is the exact same. Not the same as in, “please clean this place,” but the same as in nostalgic and oddly comforting. Sure the bar has invaded the space where there used to be a giant slide and a heavy woman named Dodo (hand to god) would serve us cinnamon graham crackers every Wednesday night while our parents did what mid-week bowler parents do, but other than that everything else has remained the same. Until now.
The often forgotten area that I reluctantly referred to as a “restaurant” in the past, has finally been handed over to somebody that can actually do something about it. This is very exciting news for us in Danville.
Justin Walsh, aka Norm of Norm’s Place in downtown Danville, has sunk his teeth into his first expansion project with the know-how of successful dining in our tiny town. Rocky’s place, named after the recent family blessing of an awesome little spit fire, extends the reach and similar racing motif that we have all grown familiar with at the parent restaurant, with a unique flair for the bowler.
As an ode to understanding his audience, Norm has crafted his menu with the “I’m using my hands but I’m hungry” bowler in mind and a liberal use of appetite-guttering finger foods and sandwiches built to enjoy while you concentrate on picking up that spare. For me, the salads at his original location set a precedence that has yet to me matched locally, so why try to re-invent the bowling ball? He has brought over three of his most famous creations to fit the bill. As a tip of the hat to our competitive eating society, Norm offers “The Home Wrecker,” a 20” all beef Angus hotdog drown in chili, cheese and onions alongside a mountain of fries served on a platter. This will comfortably serve four bowlers (not known for the smallest appetites) but is offered as an eating challenge to beat. (Norm’s own recorded time? Inquire within.)
Two things strike (pun intended) me about Rocky’s: The construction and the catering. Finally this forgotten appendage to the thriving bar has gotten a facelift that it desperately needed. The wall with the two-way door that felt more like the entrance to a strip mall beauty salon is gone. Norm has opened up the space to become part of the ambiance that is The Bowl. At the same time, he has splashed colors of life and his calling card of corrugated metal to bring the space into the “now” while sharing the intoxicating smells from the grille with the lanes. But the coup de grâce is the catering menu. Separated into regional flavors, Rocky’s offers Country, Italiano, Pub Grub, Mexicali, Southern Comfort, Santa Maria and Touch of Class catering menus to draw in birthday parties, corporate events, or whatever your “eat-in-bulk” needs are. Norm’s wife, Cindy, heads up the catering charge and can be contacted for on or off-site needs.
I am a huge proponent of Norm and his business savvy. Always have been. He has paved the way for other grilles in Danville to emulate in the hopes that they may get a crumb of the success he has achieved, and I for one am elated that this Danville Icon chose the Danville Bowl, a place of equal importance to so many of our pasts, to work in his restaurant talent. You don’t have to be a bowler to want to hang out at a place where everybody knows your name, but if you know you’re headed there anyway, for crying out loud, don’t eat first! Rocky’s will take care of you once you’re there!
200 Boone Court, Danville
Catering – Cindy Walsh