INDIANAPOLIS– Imagine creating a game with your friends that actually turns into a successful business.
That’s exactly what happened with “fowling” — which is a mix of football and bowling. Back in 2014, the founders opened their first Fowling Warehouse in Michigan, followed by locations in Cincinnati, Atlanta and Indianapolis.
Located inside the Circle City Industrial Complex on Brookside Avenue, Fowling Warehouse just celebrated its one-year anniversary last month. But their Indy roots go much, much deeper.
Grab a beer and get your throwing arm ready, because we are going fowling on this trip In Your Neighborhood.
“Fowling is the original football bowling pin game,” explained Fowling Warehouse Indianapolis owner Eric Page. “It’s as if corn hole, horseshoes, shuffleboard, football and bowling all got together and this is what came out.”
It all started 21 years ago in the infamous Coke Lot at the Indianapolis 500. Page admits it came about somewhat by accident when some friends from Detroit built a regulation-size bowling alley and the backstop failed.
“Just out of a little bit of frustration, a couple hours later some folks were throwing around the football and knocked down the pins and fowling was born,” he said.
You’ll see plenty of references to the famous race in the 51,000 square foot Indy Fowling Warehouse, like an actual racecar, checkered flag selfie board and other nods.
“We have a total of 33 lanes here and we did that intentionally for 33 cars that are in the Indianapolis 500,” Page noted.
They’ve also got two full bars featuring anywhere from 100-125 types of beer on any given day, plus a “Mystery Beer Machine” and the Hoosier-born Bottoms Up draft beer system.
But the main attraction—of course—is fowling.
The concept is easy: set up the bowling pins, step behind the line and use a football to try and knock down all the pins.
“You can throw it any way you like. You can throw overhand [or] underhand. If you’re a long snapper in football — you can long snap it,” he said. “You just can’t kick the ball… because things go a little awry.”
It’s harder than it sounds but once you get the hang of it, you can go for the real challenge: getting a “Bonk,” which is when you only knock down the red pin right in the middle—without knocking down any other pins.
If you succeed, you get to sign the wall and pull the infamous [and loud] “Bonk Honk” freighter horn to celebrate.
Four Things You Need to Know About Fowling Warehouse:
- “Fowling” is a game that basically combines football and bowling. It was invented by accident over 20 years ago in the Coke Lot at the Indianapolis 500 race by a group of friends. The idea was expanded upon in Detroit, where they built out the first Fowling Warehouse location. Since then, multiple locations have opened across Michigan, in Cincinnati, Atlanta and Indianapolis (which opened its location at 1125 Brookside Avenue in August 2020).
- Owner Eric Page says we are coming up on prime season for fowling because fall, winter and early spring are their busiest. You can bring in any food you like but they also bring in local food trucks. They also have large screens to watch games and they even open up the big garage doors on the side of the building when the weather allows.
- If you want to give fowling a try, Page says you can always walk in and play on one of their 13 “free play” lanes, but there’s also 20 lanes dedicated to reservations. Customers can reserve a lane for $120 for 2 hours. However, you can fit about 10 people per lane so that comes out to 12 bucks per person. “I feel like in terms of value for your dollars, it’s probably one of the best in town as far as getting out and doing something,” he said.
- For those with a competitive spirit, every year there is a big fowling tournament, called the “Super Fowl”, featuring approximately 8 lanes and they’ve had as many as 104 teams participate. “It starts about noon on the Saturday before the race and goes until there’s a winner,” he explained. “International competitors, international teams that have come from Germany and from England. Lots of folks from Indiana… from Tennessee [and] Michigan so it’s kind of a tradition if you will the day before the race.”
For more information about Fowling Warehouse, check out their website by clicking here. To see more photos and reviews by local Yelpers, check out their Yelp profile. You can also connect on social media via Facebook and Instagram.
While visiting the Circle City Industrial Complex, check out these other local favorites: