Under new management: Big Rapids couple in the process of purchasing The Gate

Breanna and Danny Burnett are all smiles as they pose with their two children, 5-year-old Zayden, and 7-month-old Barrett in front of The Gate. The Burnetts said they are looking forward to the updates they hope to bring to the business. (Courtesy photo)

BIG RAPIDS — As announced July 21 on its Facebook page, The Gate is under new leadership.

“We are so excited to announce that Danny and Breanna Burnett are currently in the process of purchasing the Gate,” the post said.

Though Breanna Burnett was originally from Morley, her husband Danny Burnett spent his whole life in Big Rapids.

“My husband is a big, avid bowler,” she said. “He’s been bowling since he was little and has been a really big part of the bowling community.”

Burnett said her husband was on the bowling team in high school, and later joined the Friday night men’s league to keep up with his bowling passion.

Because of his community ties, the Burnetts have always been in close contact with Mike Blackmer, the current owner of The Gate.

Almost a year ago, Blackmer reached out to Danny Burnett and asked if he was interested in being a general manager for The Gate. He said yes, and was general manager for about eight months before leaving to pursue sales.

However, people were impressed with Danny Burnett’s work as general manager during that time, and when talk of Blackmer deciding to sell came around, the Burnetts were one of the first people community members were asking to take it over, according to Breanna Burnett.

Now, with two children and searching for new careers, the Burnetts found the pieces falling into place.

“It happened to be perfect timing because Mike was ready to sell,” she said. “So we took the leap and decided to ask.”

Blackmer and the Burnetts sat down, and before they knew it, a deal was made for them to begin purchasing The Gate.

“It’s been a challenge for sure,” Burnett said.

With a few bumps along the way, however, the couple has been able to get things in order and are just waiting on a liquor license before officially signing the papers to become owners.

In the meantime, Blackmer has allowed them to take over management for the past three weeks and begin making their changes.

“It’s nice Mike let us come in and manage it for now, so we can get everything we want done and accomplished,” Breanna Burnett said.

“We’re fixing all the lanes and getting the lanes up and running. There’s just a few little tweaks we have to do, but we’ve got all the machines cleaned, oiled and running.”

Blackmer is looking forward to leaving the bowling alley in the hands of people who will give the business the time and attention it deserves.

“I was happy to be able to build The Gate and keep bowling in Big Rapids, but the place needs someone to be there every day,” he said.

“I’m excited for the bowlers, I’m excited for the Burnetts, and I think they’re going to do a tremendous job.”

During their time managing, the Burnetts are working on updating old equipment and making changes they are excited for the community to see.

One change, according to Burnett, will happen Aug. 25, as the lanes will be sanctioned in preparation for league season, which starts after Labor Day.

By sanctioning the lanes, bowlers will be able to play competitively and carry their scores to other bowling alleys they visit during the season.

As well as newly updated and sanctioned lanes, Burnett said they will be changing up the oil patterns that have been used in the past.

“We’re going to tweak it a little bit and make it a little more challenging, fun and exciting for our bowlers,” she said. “I think they’re really going to engage and enjoy it more.”

Some other updates Breanna Burnett is looking forward to is new tables and chairs for the concourse, a new menu, new signs, new uniforms and a new name.

“We have a lot of changes coming, but they are slowly coming,” she said.

The new menu will include loaded nachos, wraps and more salad options.

While Burnett gave a sneak peek of the menu, the new name will remain under wraps until they become official owners.

“We’re going to do a big Facebook announcement of the new name to get it out there,” she said.

Along with a new name, Burnett has gotten rid of league play during the weekends in hopes of providing more family, open bowling opportunities.

“I’m most looking forward to seeing more families and more of the community in here,” she said, noting she can’t wait for school to begin. “It’s like a 180 from summer to fall, with bowling.”

Breanna Burnett also would like to bring back youth leagues, so kids will have something to do in Big Rapids during the winter.

“We just want to make The Gate a very family-friendly place for people to go,” she said.

While big changes are on the horizon, Burnett wants to remind community members the changes will happen slowly, but surely over time.

“I’m just really excited to see what the community thinks of it, and hope they like it,” she said.

Next summer, after the indoor projects are completed, the Burnetts will be working on expanding their outdoor opportunities, including building an outdoor patio, providing yard games and possibly opening The Max — a mini putt putt golf course behind The Gate.

“It’s been a lot to take on, but it’s been fun,” Burnett said. “It’s only going to get better from here.”

New hours will begin Sunday, Sept. 1 with The Gate being open 11 a.m. to midnight, Monday through Thursday, 11 to 2 a.m., Friday and Saturday, and noon to 9 p.m., on Sunday.

To stay up to date on the latest changes and for the release of the new name, Burnett encourages people to follow their Facebook page @thegatebowling.

The Gate has been under the management of Breanna and Danny Burnett until they obtain a liquor license. Once that’s received, the Burnetts will be official owners and plan to change the name of The Gate. They will be releasing the new name via their Facebook page. (Pioneer photo/Alicia Jaimes)

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