When in a 17,000-square-foot warehouse in Gowanus, the immediate response from the community was enthusiastic. But in the last week, several opponents of Royal Palms Shuffleboard have papered Union Street with a poster that asserts the club will bring noise and unwanted traffic to the neighborhood. Others wrote to and have commented on Carroll Gardens Patch expressing concerns.
"Very little communication with the community for a theme bar with drinking games," wrote in one reader named Mark to Patch. "I would be against such a business located in a residential or mixed use area."
But owners Jonathan Schnapp and Ashley Albert say their detractors have it all wrong, and would like to clear up any confusion.
"We aren't planning on having drinking games or anything disgusting and fratty like that," said Schnapp, 39, over iced tea on Monday. "I don't know where that rumor even came from."
Schnapp and Albert stated that they have reached out to a number of neighbors already and would be happy to speak to anyone else who has questions.
The poster seen around Union Street complains that live music will ruin an otherwise quiet block. But noisy rock bands and customers squeezed in like sardines have never been part of the vision, said the couple.
"I've lived in New York for 20 years, and I don't know that I've ever been to a nightclub," said Albert, 38. "I don't like to go to bars. I'm kind of a nerd. The only reason why there will be liquor at all is to offset the cost of playing shuffleboard itself for the customers. Because we want to make it affordable and accessible."
Playing shuffleboard is the intention of the establishment, not to be a hipster mecca for seeing bands, the owners insisted.
"We're not looking to be Brooklyn Bowl or ," asserted Schnapp. "Any live music we would feature would be along the lines of The Baby Soda Jazz Band—something that gets lost in the background while you play shuffleboard or mahjong. I mean, I love Talib Kweli. But Talib Kweli is not appropriate for The Royal Palms Shuffleboard club. It's not what we're going for."
Plus, the music will have fairly far to travel before it could even escape outside.
To give a sense of scale, a shuffleboard court is typically 6 feet by 59 feet, the owners noted, and "a good 56 of those feet are empty." Approximately 6,000 square feet of the total 17,000 footprint will be taken up by the shuffleboard lanes, Schnapp estimated. A third of the remaining space will be devoted to house office space, and rest will be devoted to mahjong or canasta tables—and even laptops and wifi during the day.
In an effort to alleviate any concerns regarding noise spilling over from rooftop shuffleboard lanes, owners said they had already been looking into a noise-reducing shell to create a barrier between the sound and the street.
"We're excited to see how different parts of the community could interact here, whether it's gym programs from local schools coming by or senior citizens from a local assisted living facility," continued Schnapp. "We want to be a place where everyone feels welcome. We picture kids birthday parties during the day, shuffleboard leagues during weeknights."
In fact, the couple plan to move to Gowanus themselves and "make a home here." So a noisy, drunken club is the last thing they would want to live near, they said.
If the vibe of Brooklyn Bowl is Saturday night, Albert summed up, "Royal Palms is definitely Sunday morning," she said. "Maybe there will be an occasional 'Shrimp Cocktail Night.' But I don't foresee people going crazy over something like that."
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