PORTLAND – Portlanders with a penchant for the tenpin will soon be able to strike in town. Or loiter in the gutters, as the case may be.
The Bayside Bowl bowling alley in Portland’s Bayside neighborhood is finishing up construction this month. Located in the former Skillful Vending building on Alder Street, the assembly of pool tables and dart boards has been replaced by 12 wood-plank roads to bowling glory.
The alley is the inspiration of former state Rep. Charlie Mitchell and state Sen. Justin Alfond, who both live in Portland. Mitchell also heads up the Bowl Portland bowling league, which has been packing Yankee Lanes for the past three years.
Bowling appreciation, it seems, is on the rise, as Mitchell noted the league had to turn interested teams away last year.
But all are welcome at the soon-to-open Bayside Bowl, where live music and barroom chatter live in harmony with the crack of pins.
The bowling alley features an airy square-shaped bar, where leftover wood from the lanes will be utilized to smooth the bar-to-bowling alley transition. Some local brews are expected to be on tap, as well as the classic alley favorites. (PBR, anyone?)
Bowlers fueling for an intense round of rolling can slide into one of the long tables in the adjacent dining area. The menu boasts pub fare with a classy alley spin, including barbecue pork “cigars,” coconut curry chicken poppers, crab and lobster cake sliders, and chicken wings. There must be chicken wings.
There’s also focaccia bread pizza, grilled ribeye, mini chicken chimichangas and double cheeseburgers. The veggie stir-fry and garden burger mean the meat-free won’t have to brown-bag it.
And as a reward for a high scoring game — perhaps breaking 100 for the first time — bowlers can treat themselves to cinnamon apple empanadas or a Guinness beer float, among other desserts.
Local musicians will keep the air filled with music from the corner stage near the bar. There’s also a DJ booth near the lanes, where the thumping tunes will help boost bowling prowess.
The alley is USBC certified, and discriminating bowlers will appreciate the lane oiling machine, which gives operators plenty of control over the lane conditions and oil patterns.
Bayside Bowl is a bowling alley, no doubt about it. But this isn’t the brightly cartooned, multicolored carpet bowling alley you might be used to. Exposed brick, modern lighting and a slick gray color scheme give it an all-grown-up feeling.
But not too grown-up for Skee-Ball machines. Two of them.
Mitchell said they’re aiming for a soft launch in late May or early June. They’ll also be celebrating election night on June 8. The first Bayside Bowl concert is slated for June 12 — a CD-release party for Portland-based Marie Stella.
For more information on Bayside Bowl, to follow the construction or to sign up for the mailing list, go to www.baysidebowl.com.
Staff Writer Shannon Bryan can be contacted at 822-4056 or at: