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Story #51Royal Palms Shuffleboard ClubBrooklyn, NY

It was just a good idea that got completely out of hand.

Stepping inside The Royal Palm Shuffleboard Club is like entering a different place and time. Founded by business partners and internationally ranked shuffleboard players Ashley Albert and Jonathan Schnapp, Royal Palms is a vintage-themed shuffleboard court and bar that is breathing new life into the sport by drawing on Brooklyn’s hip, younger crowd. With décor elements like aqua blue courts, striped booths called “cabanas,” flamingo-printed wallpaper, and of course, palm trees, Royal Palms is also giving Brooklynites the semblance of a tropical vacation right in their own backyard.

Inspiration struck for Albert and Schnapp when they were in Florida and visited the historic St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Club. They were shocked to find that on this particular night, the crowd was predominately in their 20s and 30s – far younger than the typical shuffleboard crowd. “We looked around and thought, this would be so spectacular in Brooklyn,” said Albert. The one thing that could stand in their way was finding a large enough space – so when they did, they committed their life savings.

What makes Royal Palms so special is the experience that Albert and Schnapp have so lovingly curated. The staff – who they view as family – wear cabana whites or Hawaiian print shirts, and are trained to treat customers as if they’re on vacation. Albert and Schnapp themselves are always on the floor, teaching people how to play and making sure they’re happy. “I think we both feel that just giving people a little bit of who we are makes a really large difference in their experience,” said Schnapp.

In addition to providing the neighborhood with “a tiny vacation in the middle of the bricks,” Albert and Schnapp hope they can also inspire other small business owners to accomplish the seemingly impossible. With a successful year and a half at Royal Palms under their belt, they are considering the possibility of opening another club in a different city, and while they are thrilled with the idea of shuffleboard seeing a newfound popularity, they’re still a bit wary of others trying to capitalize on their idea.

“The key is not to feel the pressure to grow just to outpace the competition,” said Albert. “I think that we’ve built something really special here and this success feels satisfying enough to us right now.”

 

Photos by Shaul Schwarz

  • Patrons play shuffleboard on league night at The Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club in Brooklyn, N.Y. Finding a space in the city big enough to hold 6 foot by 60 foot courts should have been the biggest challenge for Ashley Albert and Jonathan Schnapp, but it was actually the first piece of the puzzle to fall into place. "We always say that our landlord was our first investor."

  • The check-in desk on league night at The Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club.

  • A waitress serves a cocktail at The Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club. The staff wears cabana whites or Hawaiian printed shirts, and are trained to treat patrons as if they're on vacation.

  • A shuffleboard team attired in accessories from the photobooth takes a victory lap after a tight game at The Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club in Brooklyn, N.Y.

  • Drinks at The Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club are served in mason jars.

  • Patrons play shuffleboard on league night at The Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club in Brooklyn, N.Y. In addition to reviving an old pastime and introducing it to Brooklyn's hip young crowd, owners Ashley Albert and Jonathan Schnapp are providing residents with a respite from the hustle and bustle of the city.

  • Flamingo-printed wallpaper brightens the restroom at The Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club. This and other decor elements like palm trees, striped "cabanas" and aqua blue courts add to the tropical vacation vibe of the club.

  • Ashley Albert, one of the owners of The Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club, stands in the Brooklyn space. Albert credits her family, who were all artists, creators, freelancers, or small business owners, for instilling "an idea in me of autonomy and being able to make your own way in the world."

  • Jonathan Schnapp, one of the owners of The Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club, plays shuffleboard on league night. On the challenge of starting a small business, Schnapp says "the difficulty is trying to inspire very different types of people, to convince them to make your dream their dream."

  • Customers sit at the bar on league night at The Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club in Brooklyn, N.Y.

  • A vintage sign and trophies on display behind the bar at The Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club in Brooklyn, N.Y.

  • Inspiration struck for Royal Palms founders Ashley Albert and Jonathan Schnapp when they visited a shuffleboard club in Florida and were shocked to find that on that particular night the crowd was predominately in their 20s and 30s. "We looked around and thought, this would be so spectacular in Brooklyn."

  • Founded by business partners and internationally ranked shuffleboard players Ashley Albert and Jonathan Schnapp, The Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club is a vintage-themed shuffleboard court and bar that is breathing new life into the sport by drawing on Brooklyn’s hip, younger crowd.

Business Details

Proprietor: Ashley Albert & Jonathan Schnapp
514 Union Street Brooklyn, NY 11215
PH: 347-223-4410 / Website
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