Photo by Judy Wiley
They were speed skaters when they met, and they still like to lace their skates up and take a few spins around the rink.
The difference is that for the last 15 years, Mike and Kathy Vouklizas have owned the rink — SkateTown in Grapevine.
Skating may seem old-school in the age of video games and texting, but even on a quiet weekday afternoon kids were cruising around the smooth floor, some on inline skates and others on the traditional kind. The crowd is young, early in the day, kids from elementary or junior high schools.
Most of his clientele, Mike said, are 10 to 14.
“When skating’s going good we start seeing 19- and 20- year-olds, 17-year-olds bring their dates skating. We’ve got every age.”
The energy is best, he said, when 200-400 people are on the floor.
“That’s when the building gets exciting, and they really have a good time,” he said.
The rink can hold 1,000, but starts to feel crowded at about 500, he said.
The couple, who gave up competitive speed skating in 1991, broke ground on SkateTown in January 1997 and opened six months later.
They’ve seen a shift over the years to inline skates, but “traditional’s been making a comeback lately,” Mike said. “I think the traditional skates are more comfortable to skate on. There are more things you can do on traditional skates, and you can skate longer on them.”
They keep about 700 pair available for rental.
The couple, who lives in Southlake, has seen business slow down over the years. SkateTown averaged 75 birthday parties a week when it opened and now has 35 to 40.
Mike said competition from ice rinks that have opened since has been a factor, and so have other kinds of party entertainment.
Still, Amy Lively of Rhome drove all the way to SkateTown on a Monday afternoon because daughter Berkley wanted to skate. The two of them were trying to get a good fit for Berkley in rental skates because she had forgotten her personal pair.
Most of the kids skating said their parents had dropped them off for the afternoon, proof that not everything has changed.
Mike remembers his first skating party.
“I fell in love with it. Then my mom realized during the summer it was a great place to drop us off.”
Skating times and prices
- Tuesday — public skating 6 p.m.-9 p.m., $2 admission, $2 skate rental
- Friday — public skating 4 p.m.-10:30 p.m., $6.50 admission, free skate rental
- Saturday — public skating 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m. From 11 a.m.-6 p.m. $6 admission, $3 skate rental; 6 p.m.-10:30 p.m. $6.50 admission, free rental.
- Sunday — public skating 1 p.m-5:30 p.m., $6 admission, $3 rental.
Birthday parties — SkateTown is reserved for private parties Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. Parties are $99.95 for a party of 10.
Lessons — Lessons are available from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday for $5 including skates.
SkateTown, 2330 William D. Tate Ave., Grapevine, 817-329-9988, www.skatetown.net