Friday, March 08, 2013


I could tell from the get-go that Jonathan Schnapp knew about fun. When I first met him at a party in the backyard of By Brooklyn last summer, he was rocking t 70s-style jumpsuit.  We got to talking and he told me and a few other folks that he was planting the seeds to build a state of the art shuffle board club in the Gowanus neighborhood of Brooklyn.  So I leaned in to hear the story behind this idea.

Schnapp grew up in Mamaroneck, and every winter his folks would pack up and take their family to Florida to see the grandparents in Century Village.   There, Jonathan would hang out at the pool and play shuffleboard with the elder folk.  "There were shuffleboard courts for as far as the eye could see," he recalls. 

As an adult, Jonathan returned to Florida with friend Ashley Albert to serve as a judge in a BBQ competition.   While there, they found the Mirror Lake Shuffelboard Club in Saint Petersburg.  Friday night was all about the "St. Pete's Shuffle," where people of all ages would gather under the stars to play the game together.

It was through this magical experience at St. Pete's that Jonathan and Ashley decided to open up their own shuffleboard joint  in Brooklyn.   They spoke with Jim Allen, the owner of the country's biggest shuffleboard supply company.  Seeing the possibilities for Jonathan and Ashley to help create the new face of shuffleboard, he offered to outfit them with all the game-related equipment they needed to launch their business in New York.

At this very moment, Jonathan and Ashley are poised to begin construction on Royal Palms, a dream-becoming-reality on Union Street between 3rd and Nevins Streets.  I recently visited them there in what is now a large, open, vacant space.  They graciously served me a seasonal sample of Boylan Soda's seasonal Shirley Temple flavor as I learned about co-owner Ashley's multi-faceted career as a voice-over artist; leader of The Jimmies, a popular children's rock ban; and founder of a company that makes Twitter necklaces.

Ashley and Jonathan are excited about the possibilities for intergenerational interaction that Royal Palms offers.  Already, they are working with the Good Sheppard after school program to partner children with elderly adults from the neighborhood for a monthly shuffleboard tournament.

They are also working hard to stay on a conservative budget so they can keep the experience affordable for all who come in the door.

Jonathan makes is clear that his is a club that respects the actual sport; the aim is not to be ironic.  The courts will be tournament-quality.

I am personally excited to have this project in the neighborhood.  It takes a lot of smarts to operate a social club that pulls in and is appropriate for folks of all ages and I think this one dynamic duo that can pull it off.
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