After 58 years in Belleville, the Arbor Room at Bel-Air Bowl will close its doors later this month.
The bowling center opened as Panorama in 1960 with the Arbor as its bar. Nancy Chase, marketing director for the bowling center, said the bar and restaurant will be transformed into something else later this year, but it’s too soon to announce future plans for the historic space.
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The restaurant, with stained-glass features, burgundy decor and a home-style menu, will close May 25.
More than 30 years ago, the Arbor Room was a disco in the 1980s. Before that, it was one of the first places in the metro-east where the lunch crowd could find a soup and salad bar.
“When the soup and salad bar opened they kicked it off by sending a bus around the Belleville Square to collect people from downtown and bring them to the Arbor,” Chase said. “In 1978, Frank Booker (the past owner) saw a new concept in St. Louis, the soup and salad bar.”
Regulars at the Arbor Room still enjoy the restaurant, but the Arbor Room doesn’t draw big crowds anymore unless a private event is being held there.
The restaurant stopped serving dinner some time ago. More people are choosing to dine in downtown Belleville as the restaurant scene grows, Chase said. The Arbor Room still serves lunch with fried chicken, shrimp baskets, tacos, and chicken and dumplings on the menu.
The restaurant will continue to serve popular items like tacos at the snack bar. There’s also a new bar in the bowling center where patrons can order drinks and play darts. That bar opened six months ago. The Arbor Room will still be available for rent through the end of the summer.