Of all the games that we could have foreseen sweeping through the Big Apple, shuffleboard would not have sprung to mind. But this month will see the opening of the Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club, the city's first venue devoted to the traditional, slow-moving sport in the hipster Brooklyn, no less. Located in a refurbished 17,000 sq ft warehouse not far from the Gowanus Canal, the club has gone the whole hog with ten fully-equipped shuffleboard courts ready for use.
A favourite pastime of Floridian retirees and cruise-ship vacationers because of its requirement for minimal exertion, shuffleboard's Brooklyn iteration comes with a suitably stylish makeover, courtesy of local design firm Gachot Studios. 'This started with an idea and nothing else. The challenge was: how do you take a sport that has no brand identity or recognition and make it relevant?' recounts partner Christine Gachot.
Gachot Studios ultimately drew inspiration from owner Jonathan Schnapp's childhood memories of playing the game with his grandparents and their peers during visits at their retirement home. 'There is no mystery when you walk in, it's very straightforward. You're here to play shuffleboard,' says Gachot. The industrial space has been infused with a cool, tropical colour palette, most notably by eschewing the traditional green of the courts for a swimming pool shade of turquoise instead. Glossy, light wood floors perfectly counterbalance the building's original industrial accents, which are also echoed in the black and white striped cabanas that line one side of the room.
For those who are less inclined to push a biscuit with a broom-shaped paddle across a court, packs of Uno and other low-exertion games can also be enjoyed here. The Royal Palm's playful attitude also carries through to its food and drinks menu. The club's list of tropical-tinged cocktails, which runs the gamut from piña coladas to a cucumber and coconut water gin gimlet, have been named after shuffleboard legends, and come served (albeit in mason jars) with straw twists or paper umbrellas. The food is always a surprise as it's supplied by a changing roster of food trucks that drive straight into the space and dole out their grub indoors.
With all these pieces in place, The Royal Palm's union of rose-tinted nostalgia and urban irony could not have come together more perfectly. Let the games begin.