SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine — For Chris Tyll, a former Navy SEAL and owner of Pat’s Pizza in Portland’s Old Port, the only easy day — as his old military unit’s motto suggests — was yesterday.
But for customers at his new business, Tyll’s goal is just the opposite.
“When you think of Easy Day, it will soon become synonymous with a Friday happy hour, a good time with your family, and that’s the goal,” Tyll said this week. “That’s what Easy Day is all about.”
Easy Day — a restaurant, bar and 10-lane 10-pin “bowling lounge” — formally opened on Wednesday after months of renovations to the space at 725 Broadway.
Bowling costs $30 for an hour, with a $5 discount weekdays until 3 p.m., and shoe rentals are $3.50 a pair. The restaurant has a full menu, with entrees from $10-$19, a “never frozen, always local when possible” policy, and pub fare and appetizers to please the late-night and bowling crowds.
After a soft opening on Feb. 26, Tyll, who lives in North Yarmouth, said business has been booming.
“Just the number of calls we’ve had for reservations has just been crazy,” he said. “The atmosphere and the vibe is out there. People like it — they like the space, they like the view, and we’re putting out some really good food.”
Easy Day might draw comparisons to Bayside Bowl in Portland. But according to Tyll, his longtime idea for Easy Day emphasized first and foremost the creation of a family-focused restaurant. He also hopes to create a happy hour draw on the South Portland side of the Casco Bay Bridge, with entertainment on Fridays and Saturdays.
“What you see is what my vision was,” Tyll said, gesturing to the bowling area. “There’s a young family here playing on Lane 1, and over there there’s two guys who maybe just got out of work on Lane 6 having some beers. That’s what it’s about.”
Local is literally the centerpiece of Easy Day.
Long, wooden bar tables made by Windham Mill Works that separate the bowling lounge from the bar are adorned with empty bottles of Allagash beer, holding single-stem flowers. The kitchen uses hand-cut French fries from Fryeburg, and Tyll hopes to seasonally incorporate food from local farms in Cape Elizabeth and Cumberland. He said he also made a point to use local vendors throughout the construction and renovation process.
The building at 725 Broadway has turned over several times in the past few years. It previously hosted Events on Broadway, a banquet and reception hall that closed in December 2012, and before that it was Beale Street BBQ.
But after major renovations to the space, most notably the addition of large windows along the back walls overlooking Portland Harbor, Tyll said he is confident Easy Day can reverse what some people warned him was the curse of the space.
“Whenever you have a piece of real estate you have to figure out how to bring value to it, and you bring value to it by capitalizing on what you have,” he said. “The future [of this space] is this beautiful renovation, giving people a view of Portland, and putting out killer food. People say it’s a cursed location, but it’s really not.
“At the the end of the day,” Tyll said, “you can build whatever building you want, but it comes down to people and food.”