A new bar scene is coming to Pawtucket in the Hope Artiste Village, just a stone’s throw from the Providence line, and will enable patrons to watch scenes from The Big Lebowski and Kingpin while drinking beer (or White Russians, for Dudes who abide) and playing a little duckpin bowling themselves. It’s easily the most unique bar I’ve visited, situated on the third floor of the old mill that houses The Met and the Saturday Farmer’s Market—it is a true renovation project that gives one the feeling of being back to the 1920s, when this bowling alley was first established. (It was actually put in place to keep the mill workers from joining a Union, ultimately an unsuccessful endeavor.) The high-top tables are made of wood from the mill’s old stairwells, and the bar itself was fashioned from 100-year-old wood flooring. Despite the rustic history of the establishment, everything looks shiny and new, and it gives one the distinct impression of stepping straight out of the 21st century and into the past.
I was lucky enough to preview the scene before its official grand opening, and as it was too cold for my New Mexican, desert-born blood to reason properly, I did not enter through the doorway marked with the correct address because I hit The Met and thought I’d gone too far. Words of wisdom to the frozen traveler: The bar is above the Bread Lab, past the Farmer’s Market entrance and The Met entrance. In fact, it is the Bread Lab that provides the food for BreakTime, and their grilled cheese and tomato soup combo is the perfect fix for a cold winter’s day. That, of course, and the full bar. With 20 or so beers to choose from — four of them on tap — a couple of ciders, a nice selection of wines and ingredients to make your favorite cocktails, it’s easy to keep warm or cool on the third floor.
I chose my drink with no hesitation, a Mark West Pinot Noir, and sampled one of every appetizer, from the grilled vegetable sliders with balsamic fig relish to fried ravioli with marinara sauce to the crab-stuffed mushrooms (so good I promoted them to everyone else). I recognized a familiar face behind the bar, a mixologist from my favorite spot downtown, and he helped me understand the phenomenon that is duckpin bowling. Many Rhode Islanders might be familiar with this, but I never knew there were different types of pins and bowling balls. I thought “duckpin” somehow related to the human pinsetters who sat like ducks at the end of the lanes, but it turns out, no; the pins are different, shorter and smaller and less likely to fly kamikaze-like at said human pinsetters. The bowling balls are also smaller and lack finger holes, a mind-blowing concept. Despite these differences, I decided to give it a whirl, mostly because it didn’t require rental shoes (any shoes without high heels will do!), and I’d already drunk some wine so my inhibitions were low.
I somehow struck four pins on my first shot, and channeling my inner George Costanza, decided to leave on a high note. (Standard rules for duckpin bowling allow three rolls per frame instead of two, as strikes are harder to achieve.) The going rate for a lane is reasonable, and I highly recommend it. Any sport that allows granny shots without mockery is worth a try.*
*for the record, this is not how I achieved my four-pin hit.
BreakTime Bowl and Bar will be open Thurs – Sat, from 4pm – 1am on Thurs and Fri, and 9am – 1am on Sat. The early Sat hours means Farmer’s Market goers can shop till they drop, and then drop some pins (#gutterhumor #sorrynotsorry). Even non-bowlers will appreciate the retro-atmosphere, the cozy couches and the scenes playing from their favorite cult classics. Anyone seeking a getaway, whether from the normal nighttime scene or the grueling work week or the modernized 21st century, will find a place at Pawtucket’s BreakTime.
999 Main St, Suite 1330 (3rd floor), Pawtucket. For more information or to make reservations, call 844.467.3383 or visit breaktimebowlandbar.com