PORTAGE — Since they were kids, Crown Point cousins Eli Pecoski and Paul Terzioski have wanted to operate a place where kids and families can go to have fun.
Then last summer they heard the long-standing R-Way skating rink here, opened in 1979, had been shuttered and was up for sale.
The two, both of whom are in the construction business, jumped at the chance to make their childhood dream come true.
For the last several months they have been revamping and remodeling the rink at 3600 Scottsdale St., into a modern day skating rink/arcade with a throwback to roller skating's heyday.
The disco balls hang over the newly finished skating rink. Glow-in-the dark murals — painted by local artist Felix "Flex" Maldanado — surround the rink, interior walls and special "glow" party room. New glow-in-the dark skating-themed carpet covers the floor, and dozens of new pairs of roller, inline and speed skates are neatly stacked in rows waiting for renters. Training skates also will be available for rent.
A new sound system has been installed along with new lighting. The concession stand has been updated and the restrooms remodeled. Lockers have been updated.
They also installed an arcade area for youngsters, and adults, when they don't want to be in the rink.
"Kids today," Terzioski said, "are all glued to their iPhones and iPads. We want to give them a place with something else to do. This will be a place for families."
The two, however, admit they didn't know much about the roller skating business when they bought the rink. Neither, they said, is a proficient skater.
"We were hesitant, but we started doing research and saw there is an interest in roller skating. We went to other roller rinks to see what they were doing," Terzioski said, adding they came up with the galaxy theme and the center's new name, SK8 World. "We did research from sea to shining sea. Everything we brainstormed about, they had, other than the same theme."
With their background in construction, the two did most of the work remodeling the facility themselves.
The cousins, both 39, married and with two children each, said they are planning on various theme nights, ranging from "old school jam nights" to Christian music nights to James Brown night. The digital sound system has some 200,000 songs in its repertoire for a deejay to play.
They also are considering offering skating-related fitness classes at the rink.
"This is going to be the place for people from Lake and Porter counties to gather," Pecoski said.
Pecoski said they are emphasizing family fun and safety. The walls include signs with the rules of the rink, stressing proper behavior and proper dress. Rink guards have been hired to enforce the rink's regulations. They also will hire off-duty police officers for security during the weekends.
While they likely won't open until next weekend, Pecoski said they have been receiving positive feedback from people, not only in Portage, but also throughout the Region. Their Facebook page, without any promotion, has more than 5,200 followers.
"That shows how many people are into roller skating," Terzioski said.
"The amount of support we have had from the community to keep it a rink has been overwhelming," Pecoski said, adding they've also already had several inquiries from area businesses wanting to rent out the facility for corporate events.