While the Gerald Ratner Athletics Center offers a wide range of athletic opportunities for UChicago students, Seven Ten Social introduces a new sports facility close to campus: a bowling alley. Nestled next to the southern-style restaurant Roux on East 55th Street, Seven Ten Social offers both bowling lanes and American cuisine just a couple minutes’ walk from Campus North Residential Commons.
Having reopened late October 2021, Seven Ten Social combines bowling and good food in a vibrant atmosphere. “I’m proud to unveil the evolution of the neighborhood bowling alley with Seven Ten Social,” Steve Soble, who owns both Seven Ten Social and Roux, said in an interview with *Chicago Food Magazine*. “With a stunning modern industrial décor, state-of-the-art bowling machines with automatic scoring, and a great menu from award-winning Chef Charlie McKenna, we want Seven Ten Social to be a Hyde Park institution for fun times for the next 20 years.”
I, along with 13 friends, visited at 6 p.m. on a Friday night. Seven Ten is fairly affordable if you bring a large group with you; the bowling alley charges $1 per minute per lane on Fridays and Saturdays, and $0.50 per minute per lane Tuesday through Thursday and on Sunday. Up to six people may bowl per lane, with bowling shoes and bowling ball rentals included in the price. For our group of 14, this came to $14 per person. Though my group was worried Friday night traffic in Hyde Park would spark long wait times, we were able to walk in—Seven Ten Social does not take reservations—and claim three lanes without a problem.
When we walked in, staff checked our vaccination cards and IDs per Chicago state guidelines. Once approved, one of my friends set up the lanes while the rest of us grabbed shoes from a large open shelf. I appreciated the overall cleanliness of the shoe. Unlike those from past places I have bowled, Seven Ten Social’s bowling shoes were not hanging on by a thread, although this could be attributed to the newness of the establishment.
Splitting up into two lanes of five and one lane of four, our group bowled for an hour. The layout of the lanes, with two lanes cozied together by U-shaped couches and a table, allowed for a seamless atmosphere without the hassle of too many bowlers in one lane. In the hour we bowled, all three groups completed a game and a half. A neat aspect offered in the scoring system allowed us to see both current scores for the game and the cumulative scores between rounds.
One concern, though, lies with the bowling ball return system. The balls came in quickly on the same mechanism where bowlers grabbed the ball for their turn. Often, my friends and I would have to quickly move our hands to avoid smashed fingers and other unfortunate accidents. However, one could argue this added an extra level of excitement to an already eventful scene.
In terms of food, Seven Ten Social’s menu serves up fun flavors. The menu highlights the Seven Ten Burger, fried chicken sandwiches, chicken tenders and wings, crinkle fries, and four different milkshake options, in addition to an alcohol section with cocktails and boozy milkshakes. Although the chicken tenders were spectacular, if a bit spicy, the milkshakes are akin to Hutch’s $1 milkshakes, except they ring up for $5.55—take from that what you will.
As fun as the bowling is itself, the ambience of Seven Ten Social plays a significant role in contributing to the atmosphere. The décor emphasizes a modern industrial design, featuring deep brown wooden tables, leather seats with metal accents, and metal panels in the sitting area outside the bowling area. Illuminating the alley, a neon sign reading “Hyde Park” lies behind the 8 bowling lanes, as boxy letters containing light bulbs spell out “EAT,” “DRINK,” and “BOWL.” The bowling balls themselves add a pop of color, with shelves of yellows, blues, pinks, and green spheres adding to the modern, upbeat feel.
Likely because of its proximity to campus, Seven Ten Social attracts many UChicago affiliates. People of all ages, but especially undergraduate to graduate student age, populated the alley. As such, the energy contributed to a “traditional” college scene, buzzing with youthfulness and excitement.
Overall, I highly recommend checking out Seven Ten Social. My experience at the bowling alley brought together great company and vibrant vibes. Throughout the evening, cheers of strikes and spares mingled with playful teasing accompanying gutter balls, and the excitement never wavered. If you’re looking for fun close to campus, don’t strike Seven Ten Social from your list.