By Steve Guntli
The Pastime Tavern has a long and storied history and is about to undergo some major changes.
Christy and Rodny Lonquist bought the tavern January 4, and have already begun making renovations to the 5,000-square-foot building. The Lonquists are converting it into a family restaurant and bar the couple hopes will become a destination.
The couple is working hard to get the redesigned Pastime up and running by early July. They have begun changing the layout, starting with a large kitchen in the back corner.
The Hill family of Blaine has operated the Pastime since the 1960s, and Mary Lee Hill ran the bar personally for the past 25 years. Christy said she and her husband recognize the Pastime’s history, and they intend to respect its legacy.
“The Pastime has been here for 50 years,” Christy said. “Everyone in Blaine knows it and likes it. We decided not to change the name because even if we did, everyone would still say, ‘Let’s go to the Pastime.’”
The Lonquists plan to wall off half the bar to separate the restaurant from the bar area, similar to Jack Niemann’s Black Forest Steak House at the north end of the block. Patrons will be greeted by a hostess at the front door and can decide if they want to sit at the bar or in the restaurant. Limited outdoor seating will be available out front, and the Lonquists are replacing the sign, which still identifies the pub as a casino.
Christy said the menu is going to consist of high-quality pub fare and seafood. The Lonquists want to use fresh, local ingredients as much as possible.
“In Blaine, you have Thai food and Chinese food and Mexican food, but there aren’t a lot of places to go for high-quality family dining and pub fare,” she said. “We’re hoping to change that.”
The Lonquists are each experienced businesspeople: Christy used to run The Northern Meadows wine shop in Blaine. Rodny is an electrician by trade, and has been splitting his time managing his private contracting business and making renovations on the tavern. Despite the hectic schedule, Rodny said it hasn’t been too difficult.
“I’m enjoying every minute of it,” he said. “We’ve been planning out our designs for this place for more than a year, so it’s been a lot of fun seeing it come together.”
The couple will be auctioning off memorabilia from the Pastime’s history later this month. Old neon beer signs, promotional items and Luke Ridnour gear will be up for bids in a silent auction starting February 12. They plan on all proceeds going to the Blaine Boys & Girls Club.