• Quick Shuffling Delays Royal Palms Liquor License Approval

    The Battle…

    At last nights Community Board Six meeting, the Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club put their game on hold after it was clear the board could vote against their liquor license application. The nights meeting started off  with an easy approval for Bellhouse to renew its sidewalk seating area. The calm approval of the beloved music venue in ‘no mans land’ Gowanus, quickly turned sour as the topic of the Royal Palms Shuffleboard venue came forth. A large standing room only crowd both for and against provided the backdrop for a very dramatic evening. Jonathan and Ashley from the Royal Palms began by providing details about their unique venue. The 17k square foot space would only be requesting an occupancy for 500 people because 7k square feet of their space would be Shuffleboard lanes that patrons could not walk on, while games were going on. Jonathan and Ashley indicated what they saw their venue as a place (during the day) for:

    Seniors and kids to play on… 1970 Florida style…vintage shuffleboard.”

    Jonathan and Ashley also explain they had repeatedly met with the residents across the street from their venue on Union Street. Some residents of Union Street (between 3rd Avenue & Nevins), known as Union Organized, had a list of problems with the venue, which mostly related to the venues new large population. These problems included the patron smokers and those waiting to get in being out front of the venue, the concept of the venue having patrons on the roof, the sound of the people and music, the late night hours of the venue, and the liquor license. Jonathan and Ashley of the Royal Palms had responding to these concerns by providing solutions to all, but one of them. These were explained by Jonathan and Ashley at the CB6 meeting and included having a courtyard away from the front for people to smoke in, having the waiting area to get in – actually  inside the venue, delaying the roof access part of their business for 6 months to prove they were good neighbors, extensive discussion with a sound engineering firm to stop sound pollution, and the closing of their venue at 2am as oppose to 4am. The only issue that remained was the liquor license itself. The liquor issue most likely was the real or at least main issue for the Union Organized group. When members of the group spoke to GYFO  last month and at the CB6 meeting they all indicated there was a’bad crowd’ that comes along with liquor. Specifically at the meeting a women named Rosemary explained that ‘we’:

    have no problem with Shuffleboarding…no problem with [Ashley or Jonathan]….we just oppose the liquor!”

    A support of the venue who spoke at the meeting was Kimberly, a Park Slope resident, who said the Royal Palms venue would be like the:

    Mirror Lake Club in St. Petersberg, [Florida]… like the scene from the movie Cocoon”

    But at the meeting more people who opposed the venue seem to be randomly selected to speak than those who supported the venue. This created lots of tention in the room with many supporters wildly shaking their hands to be called on. It also created an illusion that most of the audience at the meeting were opposed to the Shuffleboard Club. This misgiving was clarified with a request by CB6  for a show of hands of supports and those against the venue. The hand count indicated that there were more supporters in the room, but a followup question on proximity to the venue showed that mostly those who objected were closer to the venue. A member of the board reminded the audience that this is not too uncommon.

    Lawyer for the Palms, and Jonathan & Ashley (on left) listening to a board member

    Then the moment of truth arrived after lots of detailed followup questions and some comments that involved having the location near the Bellhouse instead of on Union Street and a comment about Dinosaur BBQ that is set to open just down the street. A single board member put forth approval for the liquor license with a few requirements. The approval vote include the dropping the occupancy to 300, shuttling people to and from the subway via bus, that the Shuffleboard owner would have to come back later to CB6 for roof approval, and a requirement of vegetation on the roof to help with sound issues. The requirement of shuttling people in was removed after it was noted how close a subway stop was to the venue. A show of hands from the board indicated how this particular vote would go. Only 2 members approved the liquor license under this measure. Jonathan and Ashley quickly withdraw their application, so that the vote could not be finalized.

    And with that the fate of the liquor license and the venue itself was put on hold.

    The large crowd quickly left the room allowing for the rest of the CB6 meeting on permits to continue. In the hallway things were not exactly pleasant. As reporters were pushing for comments, those for and against got into heated argument over what had taken place in the meeting.

    Some of the supporters in the hallways were small business owners in the area and were shocked by the fact that the Royal Palms had made so many concessions only to be opposed no matter what by the Union Organized group. It was a very unpleasant environment until the crowd was finally corralled out of the building by a building staff member. Out front people simple left or moved away from each other to stop arguments.

    We asked Jonathan of the Royal Palms how he felt about what had just happened in the meeting. Jonathan said:

    Really disappointed. We feel we have come up with lots of compromises and thought we had come up with some agreement, but…you know, we are still interested and really willing to find a way to make this work”

    Ashley of the Royal Palms sounded even more upbeat despite what look to be a defeat of their Shuffleboard venue. Ashley said:

    their just not seeing our vision… fear is pushing their opinions. We [wish] we could fly the board…and neighbors down to the Mirror Lake Club…. Even with Alcohol its a really good time”

    Outside Daniel of Union Organized explained the fight had just begun against the Shuffleboard Club:

    many people against are just out of town… [next meeting]… we are going to be stronger and have way more people.”


    So there it is. A fight that is far from over with what appears to be a uncomprimising situation.


    Cake and Eat it too

    What seems a little confusing for supporters and even for an observers, is that the Shuffleboard venue is zoned for commercial use. The venue, which was used for industrial production before, has not been able to get the same type of business.

    So, what is the space to be used for if it is not bringing in industrial businesses?

    This is a question for CB6 to sort out, since the board has kept it a mixed used block, even though a change for it to be residential has been discussed. The issue of mixed use zones in the area is becoming a problem for CB6 because Gowanus has become a popular place for all types of businesses and for people to live in. New small businesses have popped up all over and there has been a dramatic increase in population. It seems like the northern part of Gowanus is objectively more residential than the southern part of Gowanus, but that does not mean there is no residential in the southern part of the neighborhood. In the meeting both the board and the Union Organized  said being down by Bellhouse, which is in the southern part of Gowanus, would be a better area for the Shuffleboard club because its ‘off the beaten path’. A block over from Bellhouse actually has residential houses. There may not be as many residential houses as on Union Street, but there are houses none the less.

    Also, there is some confusion as why some of the Union Organized members are welcoming to the Dinosaur BBQ that will be just down the street from their homes closer to 4th Avenue. It seems a bit odd that residence are fine with a chain restaurant that will need a liquor license and will bringing in tourist population that will be unaware of the quant street they are visiting.

    On the other hand the Royal Palms is being run by people who do not have expeince with large venues with alcohol. This fact put off some members of the board from the start. But the question of what type of person has even run a large shuffleboard venue in a city like New York was left unanswered. The board requested that a general manager with experience be presented.

    The Shuffleboard club also has to face the overall issue of Gowanus’s watershed. Only one member of the public pointed this out last night, but this issue is something the board will have to discuss with rise in population and the approval of similar large venues in the area.


    The battle seems very far from over. The Royal Palms plans on coming back in the near future with more solutions to appease the board and get their liquor license. Only time will tell how this all unfolds.



    Note: this report has been filed by someone who is in support of the Royal Palms receiving a liquor license. This is noted because GYFO tries its best to be objective in conflicts in the neighborhood. If you feel that this report has a bias for or even against the Shuffleboard venue please feel free to send comments to [email protected] GYFO is willing, unlike other media, to post comments or full responses about this piece or any issues involving the Royal Palms Shuffleboard. 


  • Gowanus Wine Merchants: A New Wine Store Opens on Third Ave.

    Gowanus Wine Merchants

    Third Avenue finally has its own wine store!

    Gowanus Wine Merchants, at 493 Third Ave. on the northeast corner of 3rd Ave and 11th St., opened last week. The small but charming shop has an old-fashioned, hand-painted, gold-embossed window sign and offers a decent selection of wines from all over the world, organized by region.

    Join Gowanus Wine Merchants on Facebook. Happy drinking, everyone.

  • Gowanus Vintage Store!

    Now that we’re older what we grew up with… is thought of as vintage!”

    That’s what Greg Paquette tells us in his new ‘vintage’ store called The Sporting Life in Gowanus, Brooklyn. In the store, which opened last month, you won’t find pieces from the 1960s like what Don Draper wears on Madmen or old-timey items worn during prohibition like on Boardwalk Empire…. what you will find is something from the late X’er and Y’er generations youth… fashion pieces from the late 80s and the 90s. To our generation these items are from a simpler time when we were younger and fashion was…well, “unique” to say the least. Greg says:

    The items that you’ll find in [other] vintage shops are not what ‘we’ get nostalgic about… it’s stuff from the 90s that we are into!”

    And Greg’s right! His store is like a drive in a DeLorean down memory lane complete with talking Steve Urkel doll:

    Yes, you did do that Greg! And we are glad you did. The store has all sorts of crazy stuff like old buttons, a complete Walkman outfit, an OJ Simson shirt…and even old rackets that you can grab to use at the Thomas Greene Park around the corner. It’s ‘da bomb’!

    But be warned this store will date you, and if you haven’t realized it’s been 19 years since Saved by the Bell went off the air…you will. As Andrew Raskin, also of The Sporting Life says:

    My niece didn’t know what half this stuff was!”

    To bad for your niece Andrew… this stuff is totally the coolest of the cool from our childhood. It’s like “Whoa”, fantastic!

    The Sporting Life is located at: 285 Nevins Street At Sackett, Brooklyn, NY

    Check out their Facebook for more details.


  • Lucey’s Lounge: Late Summer Cocktails

    Lucey’s Lounge has begun producing cocktail videos that features classic and new versions of tasty mixed drinks. In this episode Henry, co-owner of Lucey’s Lunge, talks late summer tropical cocktails…the Hurricane and the Lime In The Coconut. Plus, they introduce one of their own called the Painkiller, which is a take on the Piña colada! mmmh yummy!

    If you having been to Lucey’s Lounge, you should go…like now. They have some of the best cocktails on earth!

    Lucey’s Lounge is located on 3rd Avenue between 10th & 11th Streets in Gowanus, Brooklyn.


    Bonus Your Face Off

    here’s the first video in their cocktail series.

  • Gowanus Shuffle (board): a Brooklyn Street Divided

    Union Street Brooklyn, NY (shot from 3rd Ave. facing Nevins St)

    It’s morning in Gowanus, Brooklyn…and along Union Street between 3rd Avenue and Nevins, the South Brooklyn Casket Company begins rolling out the homes for the recently deceased; Juice Haven pulls up their gates for the morning rush; cyclist zip by, coming and going from Carroll Gardens and Park slope, some stopping at 718 Cyclery for parts, others heading off to work somewhere in this great city. Down at the end of the block the mechanic shop begins popping open the back ends of buses to repair their engines, while Tessa Gordon’s Martial Arts and New Body Boot Camp storefronts remain quiet, until they open later in the day. From the single row of pre-WWII houses on the North side of the street residents slowly emerge heading off to work and sometimes taking a moment to gossip with neighbors about past and present events. This one block…this main road between Carroll Gardens and Park Slope fill with industrial, retail, commercial, and residential, represents almost every aspect of what makes Brooklyn so unique. It has so much going on all at once, yet it seems to somehow all fits together….

    But all is not well on Union Street in Gowanus, Brooklyn…

    Specifically, all is not well on Union Street between 3rd Ave. and Nevins. Some residents of the eclectic block are not happy. You see despite all the different types of businesses on the block some residents are not big fans of the new Royal Palms Shuffleboard venue. This seems a bit odd if you consider how many of these residence are happy with all the new places that have opened in the area. Residents are actually looking forward to Dinosaur BBQ that’s set to open down the street and seemed completely fine with Runners & Stone and the Pines on 3rd Ave. (both opening later in 2012) being approved each for a liquor license. So… when one sees the signs on every light pole and almost every door  of the block that says “No Bar”… one is a little confused. Residents want to keep the Shuffleboard out because they believe it will disrupt the special neighborhood they have built. To understand what’s really going on we spoke with residents who opposed the new establishment and to Jonathan Schnapp managing parter of the  Royal Palm Shuffleboard venue. As always there are two sides to every story.

    First, how the hell did a Shuffleboard place end up down the street from the Superfund’d Gowanus Canal? Well, it seems it all started when Jonathan Schnapp  got to do something as an adult he was did as a child. Jonathan grew up in Westchester and for vacation his family would drive 26 miles down to Florida. Once there his parents would drop him off with his grandparents at a retirement home and his folks would disappear to some fancy hotel. For little Jonathan there was two things to do when hanging out with his grandparents: chill out by the pool and play shuffleboard. The time he spent playing Shuffleboard with retirees seems to have helped define his personality as an adult. In talking with him you can feel his layback leisurely attitude that mimics the Shuffleboarding culture of a time gone by. You can even see this ‘chillness’ by his full beard and Hawaiian shirt that he wore when we spoke. Later in life Jonathan got the chance to head back to Florida to visit his girlfriend’s, Ashley Albert (Royal Palms Shuffleboard), family. Once there he simply had to play shuffleboard like he did as a child. He ventured to the worlds largest shuffleboard facilities in St. Petersburg, FL… where sights and sounds blew his mind! The place brought forth his inner child and offer things for the type of adult he had become. As he exclaimed during our discussion:

    There were food trucks…. a live band…. communities coming out and playing together…. it was magic!”

    Jonathan loved the venue so much…and was inspired to create his own venue back in New York. After 6-7 months of research, Greenpoint, seemed like the right place for his dream to take place, but the location was too expensive and only accessible by the G train. Then they found a Gowanus location along one of the neighborhoods busiest side streets. Jonathan says the Shuffleboard concept “just fit the neighborhood”!  The building  chosen has lots room with 17,000 square feet and is close to a popular local subway stop. To Jonathan the place seems perfect for Shuffleboard dream…a dream that now includes: live bands, food trucks that roll into the space, rooftop access, and all the Shuffleboarding one could ever want!

    Jonathan Schnapp standing inside his Shuffleboard dream location

    Things were ready…all that had to be done was to lock in a lease for the Gowanus locale and let the press know…but maybe not in that exact order. Back in April, long before the lease was signed (July 1, 2012), a posting appeared on Gothamist’s asking Why Aren’t There Any Real Shuffleboard Bars In NYC?Jonathan and Ashley had an answer for Gothamist… ‘There’s A Shuffleboard Club Opening In Brooklyn…in Gowanus’! Gothamist posted this news on April 25, 2012. The rest of the press, as they always do, immediately began rehashing the story adding in their own flare, including Brooklyn Paper’s piece that implied the shuffleboard was another rip off of the elderly by “hipsters”. At some point before the lease was signed, the residence across the street from the  Shuffleboard location, heard about the new venue. It is unclear if the presses consistant illustration that the venue as a ‘hipster hangout’,  painted a specific vision for residents along the block. What is clear is that they began talking to one another about the selling of liquor, the loud live music, the people on the roof, and the large crowds moving up and down their street. These neighbors, some of which have been in Gowanus for decades, were shocked that no one bothered to check with them to see if it was okay to put a “club”, as some call it, across the street from their family homes. These residents got angry. One local resident states that the Shuffleboard Club:

    …will be open late and will bring lots of noise during odd hours”

    and that the Shuffleboards patrons will:

    be coming out of the club, drinking, and smoking…being loud…not respecting the neighborhood we built over the past 30 years.”

    Some even mentioned that the venues population would hurt the amenities they’ve added to the street that include benches and large potted plants. These angry residents quickly mobilized with neighbors and formed a group called Union Organized. This group of residents began placing signs all over 3rd Ave and Union Street, which read “No Bar”! Some time past and residents not in favor of the venue continued putting up signs that state “No Bar”, despite the fact that some signs were mysteriously being torn down.  Finally, Union Organized and the Royal Palms agreed to meet. Mikael of Union Organized said his group wanted to give the Royal Palms:

    an opportunity to present their case, and for us to present our concerns.”

    Both Union Organized and the Royal Palms indicate that the meeting, which GYFO not invited to, was cordial. The residents asked questions, while Jonathan and Ashley from the Royal Palms responded. Many topics were covered including the roof access, the crowds, the liquor license, and the noise. Mikael says many of the concerns like ‘rooftop noice’ were met with no immediate solutions:

    We said the roof was going to be noisy…they said it would be sound proof…but that they had to talk to [their] designer about specific sound reduction… but didn’t really have a plan.”

    Others in the group mentioned the liquor license as major point at the meeting. Many feel that the liquor license will bring a certain clientele that’s way different from even a beer and wine place. Daniel from the Union Organize says he asked the Royal Palms at the meeting if they could open without the liquor license:

    they said at first they couldn’t…and later that they could…”

    The confusion of this answer and the lack of details about the specific plans seems to have almost added to Union Organized’s frustration with their new neighbors. The residents want answer now, but technically the Royal Palms just signed a lease at the beginning of July… despite the declaration by the press months ago that the Shuffleboard was coming to Gowanus. In a discussion a few days after the meeting between the Royal Palms and Union Organized an unnamed resident indicated their continued frustration with the situation:

    We built this neighborhood…and for someone to come in and not have answers…it makes us feel like what we made here isn’t important…. We want to know exactly what’s going to be done about the noise…the characters walking on the block…how they are going to keep drinking off the street…[and] what’s going to be done about the smoking out front….”

    Daniel along with others member of Union Organized have additional questions. Amongst these questions is one that involves toilet usage of the large population that may visit the Royal Palm. This issue is driven by a flooding problem that sometimes involves sewage in the area. Daniel wonders:

    How is this neighborhood going to take thousands of extra flushes a day?.”

    Since flooding is such as large issue in the area, we went ahead and reach out to the Gowanus Canal Conservancy, a not-for-profit that deals with Gowanus Watershed. We asked them about the increased flushing in regards to flooding. The Gowanus Canal Conservancy responded:

    We do not feel that we have enough information about the proposed shuffleboard establishment and the environmental benefits or consequences of their project in order to provide any comment.”

    Although, the Gowanus Canal Conservancy did say they would be happy to review any technical information in regards to this issue. At some point the venue will have to have a plans regarding toilets and pretty much all of the issues being brought forth by Union Organized members. Since the Royal Palms isn’t opening till next year there is still time for the venue and Union Organized to find common ground. When we asked Jonathan directly ‘if he thought a solution would be found’, he replied:

    Yes, definitely…. We want the neighborhood to be apart of this place!”

    In our discussion with Union Organized members, it seemed like they were willing to listen to plans when they are available, but the concerns regard the roof and the liquor license overall seemed non negotiable. Only time will tell if this disagreement will be resolved.

    Residents houses across from the Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club


    Bonus Your Face Off

    check out the residential houses, of which most have not changed, in this 1960s photo on Brooklyn Historical Society website: 1960s Union Street


Gowanus, Brooklyn

The crack between two hipster neighborhoods, home to the now superfunded Canal, the flash point for the new 'Buy Local' and textile revolutions, & filled with brilliant bohemians. . . this is Gowanus & it’ll awesome your face off.

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