The fun is gone: Play center closing its doors

Family Fun Land owner blames village, community for demise of business

June 22, 2010

Germantown — There will be no more Skee-Ball, video games, jungle gyms or cheese pizza.

Family Fun Land, an indoor play center that opened 19 months ago, is closing its doors next week.

And owner Boro Buzdum says he feels cheated.

Cheated, in part, by the community, which Buzdum says didn't support the business as much as he had hoped.

But he also feels cheated by the village of Germantown, after officials said they would not renew Family Fun Land's two licenses needed to operate an arcade because the business owes $42,000 in property taxes that are now six months late.

The doors were supposed to close Wednesday, but the village allowed Buzdum to stay open until July 2 so he could honor previous obligations for parties already booked.

Buzdum said he and his wife, Becky, have poured thousands into the business, 11161 Kleinmann Drive, but just didn't see the support they needed for it to succeed.

"With over $150,000 in donation requests, fundraisers for local schools, organizations and churches since we have opened, we see a very small percentage of those customers come back or even use the thousands of free passes donated," Becky Buzdum wrote in an e-mail to supporters.

Being singled out?

Boro Buzdum also blamed the village for his plight.

"We have invested around $8,000 to $9,000 into the business," he said. "The village took an inappropriate action on suspending our license. We feel the village is singling us out."

But Christa Lofy, the deputy village clerk, said other businesses that owe the village money also are losing their licenses.

"That is a part of the code, and there isn't much else we can do," Lofy said. "I have to follow the village code."

Owner hopes to reopen

Boro Buzdum said the couple may have made a mistake opening a business with a family-friendly environment that doesn't serve alcohol. He said he will try to get the backing he needs to reopen the business in three months - only this time there also would be a bar and restaurant.

"We limited ourselves to families with kids. We thought the Chuck E. Cheese concept would work, but it doesn't," he said.

Boro Buzdum added he may try to come up with something similar to the Mineshaft Bar & Restaurant in Hartford, a full-service restaurant with a huge game room.

"I think more of the Mineshaft concept would work better - where you can attract the whole family, people who are willing to come in and have a Friday fish fry maybe with a beer or a glass of wine," he said.

Customers disappointed

Even with the possibility of the business reopening, many customers interviewed at Family Fun Land last week said they were upset to see it close.

"It's sad, we should really have more places like this for kids," said Isabell Gierach.

Crysta Nofzinger, who makes the drive from Appleton to regularly join her godson at Family Fun Land, added, "It's sad because there are just not very many places for the kids to go play, especially the younger kids."

"It is a nice place to spend an hour or two or three on a Saturday, or just during the week," said customer Laura Honish. "We were very disappointed to hear that it is closing."

With the economy still slumping, employees are especially hurt by the news.

Mary Farley of Germantown held back tears as she talked about how much she will miss the place.

"I will miss everything," she said. "The people here are awesome, the customers are awesome, and they treat you with respect and just go all out for you."

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