Last weekend, we had the pleasure of dropping in on Chris Hutt, head honcho over at the Fowling Warehouse, a sprawling, 34,000-square-foot recreation space devoted to the sport of football bowling, or "fowling."
Instead of bowling a heavy ball down a lane, fowlers throw a football at 10 pins, trying to knock as many down as they can. It involves aim, a strong throwing arm, and, usually, quite a lot of beer-drinking. The rules can get a little complicated from there, but we've spoken with a few people who've done it and they couldn't get enough of it.
Hutt and company have given the ancient factory space on the Hamtramck border a six-figure makeover, including a stylish bar made of a reclaimed bowling lane, a lounge area with industrial-sized spools for tables, and even lockers for the after-work crowd. There's even a small stage where Hutt hopes to have bands playing in the future. It's only been open for a week or so. Last year, Hutt had a fowling setup on the east side, but had to abort the business after problems caused by a police raid of another business in that space. Things should be decidedly more secure around Hamtramck, where his neighbor is Andy Didorosi's Detroit Bus Company, which is available to ferry groups of sporting types to the Fowling Warehouse if needed.
Unlike bowling, there's no need to rent shoes, time your games, or pay by the frame. It's $10 a head to get in the door and you can fowl as long as you like — until the place fills up, and then competitive fowling begins, sort of like open-table pool. The amenities also include an ingenious beer-dispensing system that fills your cup from the bottom up, using a special magnetic disc on the bottom of the cup. For extra fun, there's also a horn Hutt has installed that is as loud as a freight train; those who've heard it say you have to experience the pee-inducing roar yourself.
Hutt points out that this is the world's only fowling facility, which makes it worth the trip just to experience the birth of a new sport. Of course, it is a little off the beaten path. Those entering the neighborhood off Conant will have to make a quick left onto Christopher Street, follow it as it bends to the right, then make a quick left to get into the open gate of the Fowling Warehouse's parking lot. Hutt tells us, "We’re off the beaten path a little bit here. It’s a little hard to find. It doesn’t break my heart if it takes people 10 minutes to find it. Next time they’ll find it."
We'll be following up with a story in our print edition in a few weeks, but wanted to spread the word so you know where to go: The Fowling Warehouse is located at 3901 Christopher St., Detroit; make reservations for your party at 313-264-1288.