SOUTH PORTLAND — The sign at 729 Broadway hopes to strike up popular support.
“HONK,” it urges drivers, “If You Like Bowling.”
Soon, Chris Tyll expects the message to be replaced by the rumble of balls and the clatter of falling pins.
Tyll, a Cumberland resident and owner of Pat’s Pizza in Portland’s Old Port, said final details his venture – including a name – are not settled, but work has started to convert the former barbecue restaurant and banquet space into a bowling alley that will also have a restaurant and lounge.
“We want to get families active, give them an affordable option for recreation,” Tyll said Wednesday.
A demolition license filed at the South Portland Planning Office promises a 10-lane bowling alley, but Tyll did not say whether the lanes would be tenpin (big-ball), candlepin (small-ball), or a variety.
“This is still in its infancy,” he said.
Notes on the sketch plan show as many 345 seats could be available in the lounge, restaurant and a function room for private rentals. City tax records show the 12,400-square-foot building was constructed in 1940 and bought by Louis Maietta Jr. in 2003. Maietta still owns the property.
The building most recently housed Events on Broadway, a banquet and reception hall that closed last December. For several years it was also the home of Beale Street BBQ. Kathy DiPhilippo, executive director of the South Portland Historical Society, said the building housed retail business and a roller-skating rink.
Tyll, a former Navy SEAL who unsuccessfully ran for the state Senate District 11 seat held by Sen. Dick Woodbury, I-Yarmouth, will be reintroducing bowling to the Mill Creek area after the demise of Bowl-a-Rama more than 30 years ago. DiPhilippo estimated the bowling alley at 51 Market St. operated from about 1960 to 1980.
And his business will become part of a local mini-boom in bowling, following the success of Bayside Bowl, opened two years ago on Alder Street in Portland by state Senate President Justin Alfond, D-Portland, and Charlie Mitchell, who is a former state legislator.
Although his plans may still be revised, Tyll said he has a goal in mind for opening the business.
“It would be fair,” he said, “for the children of South Portland and Cape Elizabeth to ask for bowling balls from Santa.”
While only in the “honking” stage now, work on a new bowling alley at 729 Broadway is progressing in South Portland. Business owner Chris Tyll, who also owns Pat’s Pizza in Portland’s Old Port, said he plans to offer affordable family entertainment.