When Yard Birds tenants received a 30-day notice to vacate the Chehalis building at the beginning of last November, it left dozens of business owners scrambling to find a place to land.
One of those businesses was Shankz Black Light Miniature Golf, owned by Guy and Tessa Steele.
It featured an 18-hole black light minigolf course, arcade games and rentable party rooms along with children’s entertainment, including magic shows and balloon art.
Nearly 10 months later, the couple finally reopened Shankz at its new location just down the road at 50 NE Median St. in Chehalis. As of Sunday, it will have been officially reopened for two weeks.
The Chronicle met up with Guy Steele for a tour of Shankz’ new location on Thursday afternoon. While they have managed to keep the business afloat despite being closed for nearly a year, the couple is concentrating on catching up on missed time to get the business fully operational.
“We’re trying to just pay bills right now and stay open, because we weren’t making anything when we were shut down,” Steele said.
Following what happened at Yard Birds, they decided they wanted to outright own Shankz’s new location.
“We’re our own best friend, and when we’re in control of our own destiny, Shankz is going to do a lot better,” said Steele.
They spent the last 10 months painting and renovating the new location and rebuilding the black light minigolf course.
While they’re no longer renting a business space, Shankz’s new location is a bit smaller than before. Shankz occupied a 7,700-square-foot area in the old mall, and now is in the 6,300-square-foot building on Northeast Median Street.
That means the black light minigolf course has been reduced to a 12-hole course.
“I just basically had to create my course a little more self-navigational so people are led through the course,” Steele said. “The other course had a lot of open space, but we just couldn’t find that here in town, at least that was affordable, to match what I had (at Yard Birds).”
Aside from the 12-hole minigolf course, Shankz still features arcade and pinball machines, an air hockey table and party rooms. Candy, snacks and drinks are also available for purchase.
Steele has been performing at children’s parties and events as a balloon artist for 12 years now, and has worked magic into his act over the last seven years.
He decided to be a children’s entertainer after making his own three children, ages 15, 12 and 6, laugh.
“I wanted to entertain my family at first, but then I started to realize other kids are finding me funny and entertaining too,” Steele said.
When performing, Steele goes by the stage name Mr. Twister, the Greatest Balloon Showman. Shankz isn’t just for kids though, as Steele said spaces can be rented out for employee appreciation events, holiday and birthday parties, and more.
Aside from the magic shows and minigolf, Shankz offers a “60 minutes to stop the runaway train” escape room challenge. Outside of Shankz, Steele also offers a dunk tank along with a variety of inflatable bounce houses and obstacle courses to rent for parties and events.
He also has the equipment to put on foam parties, including a recent one for Lewis County Accessible Recreation, which state Rep. Peter Abbarno participated in.
While Shankz originally opened in Olympia, it’s been in Chehalis for more than a decade now.
“We’re the owners going on six years, and it was in Olympia for five or six years. It came down here for another five years and then we took over,” Steele said.
Originally opened by David Ostrand, the Steeles took over when Ostrand decided to pursue other interests. Given Steele’s occupation as a children’s entertainer, it seemed like a no-brainer to purchase the business.
Aside from owning the minigolf course and arcade, he now has dedicated space where he can perform.
“I’m always here to entertain guests,” Steele added.
In fact, just prior to his interview with The Chronicle, Steele held a free magic show at Shankz for anyone who RSVP’d on Facebook.
Currently, Shankz is open Wednesday through Friday from noon to 8 p.m., Saturday from noon to 9 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m.
Multiple party packages for parents are available ranging from $125 to $225, and single party rooms are available to rent for $50 plus tax for two hours at a time.
Individual rounds of minigolf cost $8.50 for children ages 3 to 5, $9.50 for children 6 to 12 and $9.95 for those 13 and older.
To book a party or escape room, rent inflatables or to learn more, visit https://shankzglowgolf.com/.