What kind of cocktail pairs best with biscuits and tangs? After months of heated exchanges with neighbors, community leaders and local businesses, the owners of New York City's first shuffleboard club celebrated a victory Monday night, when their application for an on-premise liquor license was approved.
Having temporarily withdrawn their application at the end of last month's hearing, the Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club team appeared before Community Board 6's Permits & Licences Committee for the second time Monday with a revised plan that included significant concessions to their neighbors.
"We're putting in a lot of stipulations that will cut into our business," co-owner Ashley Albert told Patch after the final vote. "But in the end, if these concessions make [neighbors] feel like they can get behind it and enjoy it, then it is worth it. It was important to us that the community know we heard their concerns."
Of the revisions, the most notable—and most debated at the nearly three-hour meeting—included a shortened curfew that will restrict 'last call' to 11:45 p.m. with a 12:15 a.m. closing Sundays through Wednesdays, and a 1:45 a.m. 'last call' with a 2:15 a.m. closing on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
"Our core concerns were that we're talking about an area that has not had a venue of that size [17,000 square feet] and an area that is in a state of flux due to being near a Superfund site," said Peter Raymond, who represented community organizers. The group pushed for a two-hour buffer period between last call and closing time to ensure that hordes of customers wouldn't exit onto the street at once. But in the end, Community Board 6 felt that 30 minutes was more than sufficient.
Other stipulations presented by The Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club included:
- a reduced capacity from 500 to 300
- no roof-deck shuffleboard or bar area
- an internal courtyard/"smoking pen" that will prevent guests from congregating outside
- revamped soundproofing and sound engineering
- a retooled contingency plan for traffic flow, both externally and internally
Owners Jonathan Schnapp and Ashley Albert were joined by their lawyer as well as two recent hires who will be managing floor operations that have a combined 35 years of hospitality experience at multi-use facilities such as restaurants, bars and hotels. One, also happens to be a local: Jared Lewis, owner of Building on Bond, who expounded upon running a business and being a "respectful member of the community."
The team was also buoyed by a petition filled with more than 600 signatures and 60 letters of support of the club's application.
Of the supporters who attended in person, some admitted to initially having reservations.
“I was concerned as well when I first heard about their plans," said one resident, who resides two blocks from the club. "But after speaking with Ashley and Jonathan, I became convinced that this could be a place I could take my family, my in-laws, my friends—and do something more interesting than drinking at a bar."
He also admired the owners acts of neighborliness in advance of opening, adding "If we’re not going to support two people who are willing to limit their hours, get rid of their roof deck and make other concessions, who are we going to support?”
Gaia DiLoreto, owner of By Brooklyn, echoed that sentiment. "I truly believe that after everything Jonathan and Ashley have done to accommodate concerns, this is an opportunity the CB6 should embrace," she said.
And embrace they did. When the application finally came to a vote and was approved by the committee, Schnapp erupted into tears and hugged Albert to a chorus of cheers, applause and "aws."
A proper toast will have to wait until April 1, 2013, when The Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club is due to open.