A Spare with Flair

With opening of Mustang Alley’s, family of grads rolls a strike

By Magazine staff  |  Photos by LaKaye Mbah
Bowling Balls

Looking for a slice of pizza that’s been spinning for three hours under a heat lamp? How about chili cheese fries covered with hardened plasticine cheese? Most bowling alleys would be happy to oblige.

But if you’re craving Chesapeake Cobb salad, a Tuscan chicken wrap, or pulled pork sliders—and more sophisticated drink options—hit the lanes at Mustang Alley’s Bar, Bowling, and Bistro.

There you’ll discover the vision of Tim Koch, ’79; his wife, Mary Charbonnet Koch, ’82; and their son, Kyle Koch, ’03, who have blended more upscale fare and a well-stocked bar with duckpin and tenpin bowling.

Mary first suggested the idea three years ago, and parents and son started doing their research, scouting area restaurants and bowling venues. One year later, in August 2007, Mustang Alley’s opened in a pre-Civil War building on the eastern edge of Little Italy.

On a Roll

One of the Kochs’ marketing challenges has been overcoming the reputation of bowling alley food. “That’s our hurdle. How do we market such great talent in the kitchen when people associate bowling with stale pizza?” Kyle said.

Running a restaurant and bowling alley has been a new experience for the Kochs. Lutherville, Md., residents Tim and Mary are administrators for Tethys Health Ventures, where Tim is CEO, and Kyle—who lives in Baltimore’s Canton neighborhood—works full time in wealth management for Justin Retirement.

“It has definitely been a learning experience for people who are more used to the corporate world. We’ve brought some good things to the table and we also have some biases we need to shake,” said Kyle, who majored in political science. “Some days we absolutely curse it and say, ‘What were we thinking?’ and other nights everyone’s having so much fun.”

Pinning down Success

The Kochs credit the success of Mustang Alley’s to strong on-site managers whom they trust. They have extremely low turnover among their staff—unusual in the restaurant industry.
At the bowling alley-bistro, the mustang is the dominant motif, with a subtle nod to the Greyhound. A Loyola basketball jersey hangs at the bowling shoes counter, and a green Loyola-themed cocktail is offered on the drink list.

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