Ken Paton

Ken’s extensive experience with the bowling industry as an advisor, broker, and owner gives him a unique insight into the industry and how to present it to “suits” who have no experience with the business of bowling. His track record of delivering the terms he quotes and his ability to explain changes that are needed to make a center more financeable has made him the most trusted name in bowling finance.


Mark and Sharlene-Michele Palos

North Bend

“We were amazed that Ken was actually able to put the financing together for our purchase. He was always very responsive and had a solution for each problem that arose.”

Jon Dow

Plainfield Lanes

“Anyone who needs an industry expert should consult Ken. He is super-knowledgeable about the numbers behind acquiring, expanding, or operating a bowling center.”

Jamie Brooks

Plano Super Bowl, JB

“When we starting in 2013 there was no local bank source for bowling center loans. Ken was our only place to go. We needed a loan to complete our purchase and remodel Cowtown and Ken was able to get it done. When we decided to remodel Plano, Ken was able to do it again. We could not have been able to get to where we are without Ken!”

John Laspina

Maple Family Centers

“I’ve known Ken Paton for nearly 20 years. When we needed financing he handled the entire process with professionalism and ease. When I chaired various conventions, I asked Ken to speak and share his banking/business/bowling knowlege with all in attendance. It’s obvious that Ken’s message came across loud and clear as he’s still helping bowling center owners nationwide.”

Case Studies

Each loan is different: different people, different location, different problems, and often require different solutions.  In the Case Studies there are illustrations of how a variety of centers were financed despite their challenges.

Next Generation of Proprietors

A client had several children who had been working in his center for several years but were growing impatient to have real management responsibilities.

Bowling As A General Purpose

A former client wanted to refinance his SBA loan since it had a variable interest rate and rates had risen substantially since the loan was put in place.

Buying/Selling Case Study 1

My clients had been leasing their building for more than ten years when the opportunity to buy it arose.

Valuation of A Center

Two brothers were considering selling their center and retiring. They wanted to compare the cost and risk of converting their center into a family entertainment center and remaining with the business with the potential sale price of their center in existing condition.

Down Payment Support Seller Note

A proprietor wanted to sell his center and retire. He said that his tenant was interested in buying but didn’t have much money.

Down Payment Support – Rent Credit

A proprietor had been leasing his building for more than ten years and had the opportunity to buy it but didn’t have enough cash for a reasonable down payment.

Preparing Projections

A proprietor wanted to move his center to a new and larger building but needed projections to support his loan request.

Debt Consolidation Loans

My client had a relatively successful center in a small town.  However, it was in run down condition when he bought it and the loan that he used to finance the purchase did not include any money for upgrades.  As a result, he had used several short-term loans with high payments to finance the upgrades.

Non-SBA Solutions

My clients bought their center several years before and wanted to refi into a fixed rate and pay back some debt owed to shareholders.  

Feasibility Studies

A bank approved a loan for my client subject to a feasibility study to confirm the need for the new center.

Reopening A Closed Center

An older center had been closed for several years but the building was still in good condition. My client wanted to reopen it.


Missing from many discussions about bowling is the profit margin and low loan default rate. The 2017 BPAA Benchmark Study reports that the average profit margin is 13% for all centers and is 17% for large centers (37+ lanes). All restaurants report a 6.1% to 6.5% margin according to Forbes magazine. However, Toast (a restaurant recruiting website) reports that profit margins for most restaurants fall between 3% and 5%. Large retailers such as Amazon and Walmart report profits of 2% to 3% of revenue.

Bowling also has a history of paying its loans on time. During the ten years ending 9/30/2017 the Small Business Administration reported that bowling centers had a charge off rate of 0.79% which puts bowling in the 36th percentile of all industries.


Profit Margin - Average Center


Profit Margin - Large Center

  • Charge off rate on bowling SBA loans .79% .79%


What We Can Do For You


Even when banks have money to lend, many will not approve a loan to a bowling center. They generally talk about special purpose buildings and bank policies. However, there are many banks that see bowling as a strong industry and are willing to finance a solid and well presented project. 

Buying & Selling

Buying or selling a bowling center involves much more than simply putting a buyer and seller together. Once the interest has been identified, the due diligence process will make or break the deal. Having someone who is experienced in all aspects of the process improves the likelihood of a successful closing.


Like most other small businesses, an owner must wear many hats. Problems come when there is not enough time, or the skills required, to solve a problem are not available. Consulting with an advisor with experience in a variety of specialties can improve the likelihood of success.

Construction & Remodeling

Before concrete is poured, before the general contractor is hired, and even before the architect is engaged; a clear business plan is needed to identify the previously underserved market that needs to be served and how the proposed construction project will fill these needs.

Get In Touch

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