Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Bars & Spirits

St. Petersburg inspires hip New York shuffleboard club

St. Petersburg has inspired the hippest thing to hit Brooklyn. The Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club debuts Monday with 10 courts dedicated to the fabled Florida pastime, featuring cocktails named for St. Pete shuffleboard luminaries.

Royal Palms co-owner Jonathan Schnapp, 41, experienced a revelation two Christmases ago at the St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Club in Mirror Lake.

"It was magical: Hipsters and jocks and nerds and kids and old people all playing shuffleboard," he remembers. "I thought this would be incredible in Brooklyn."

So what for years has been a punchline to umpteen retirement jokes now will be celebrated in a former die-cutting facility on trendy Union Street. Indoor shuffleboard is just the latest in a series of New York bars where craft cocktails meet nostalgic recreation (bocce ball at Union Hall, skeeball at Full Circle, Susan Sarandon's ping-pong emporia called SPiN, which almost came to St. Pete), but Schnapp and partner Ashley Albert, 40, have come by their latest enthusiasm honestly.

Growing up in Westchester County, Schnapp would visit his grandparents every winter in West Palm's Century Village.

"My parents would drop us off there and we'd spend the week playing shuffleboard. I was supposed to go to Miami two years ago, and I did research and found out the world's largest shuffleboard club was in St. Pete."

Before driving across Alligator Alley, he called the club and Christine Page answered. Not only the president of the St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Club, Christine Page is also a Royal Palms cocktail featuring aged rum, Luxardo cherries, grapefruit juice and lime juice.

"I think I sound absolutely delicious," says Page, who is surprised by the honor but sees herself as more of a bourbon-centric Old Fashioned or Manhattan gal. After Schnapp's St. Pete epiphany, Page became a sounding board to the New Yorkers.

"She was our link to the shuffleboard community," Schnapp says.

After raising money from friends and family, it started to come together: palm tree decor, swimming-pool blue courts in a Benjamin Moore color called Tropicana Cabana and cocktails named after shuffleboard legends like Jim Allen (son of "the King of Shuffleboard," Sam Allen).

The only part that might disconcert longtime St. Pete shufflers is the price. Annual membership at the 90-year-old club in St. Pete is $30 per person, though Friday night shuffles are free. At Royal Palms, court rental for a single evening can run $40, but that's New York real estate.

Time will tell whether Brooklyn hipsters will embrace "sending the biscuit," but one thing Schnapp knows for sure:

"My whole life would be very, very different if I hadn't been to St. Pete."

Laura Reiley can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 892-2293. Times staff writer Jay Cridlin contributed to this report.

   
Comments
Taste test: pot stickers

Taste test: pot stickers

Whenever I order meals at a Chinese or Japanese restaurant I always look for pot stickers on the menu. The tasty Asian dumplings are filled with pork or chicken and veggies and cooked with a perfect balance of steaming and frying. The reason I order ...
Published: 01/16/18
From the food editor: Recipe for warm, cozy Pita Ribollita soup

From the food editor: Recipe for warm, cozy Pita Ribollita soup

When I first made this soup, Florida was in the grips of a cold weather snap, the likes of which rarely happens in this part of the state. We’re talking a whole week of lows in the 30s. The 30s! It was everything I ever wanted and more — the rare win...
Published: 01/16/18
Restaurant review: Byblos Cafe has busted out of its mold with a broader Mediterranean menu, and that’s good

Restaurant review: Byblos Cafe has busted out of its mold with a broader Mediterranean menu, and that’s good

TAMPASeldom have I paid such close attention to a restaurant closure, remodeling and reopening. Byblos Cafe began a major renovation last year, keeping the restaurant open as long as possible during the summer with some nifty temporary walls to shiel...
Published: 01/16/18
Restaurant review: Ichicoro Ane brings ramen, Japanese small plates and a whole lot of fun to St. Petersburg

Restaurant review: Ichicoro Ane brings ramen, Japanese small plates and a whole lot of fun to St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURGWhen Station House restaurant opened on Christmas Eve 2014 it was a totally reinvented space, Steve Gianfilippo’s vision for the basement level of a 104-year-old, five-story, 30,000-square-foot building he’d bought for $3 million. For y...
Published: 01/12/18
Updated: 01/13/18
Top Chef’s Fabio Viviani will open a restaurant in downtown Tampa

Top Chef’s Fabio Viviani will open a restaurant in downtown Tampa

The Tampa Bay restaurant scene has hit a certain kind of critical mass. For several years, rumors have swirled that the nation’s celebrity chefs were considering this part of the Florida peninsula as "the next big thing," a place to colonize and set ...
Published: 01/12/18
Local craft beer of the week:  Bean Porter, Pinellas Ale Works

Local craft beer of the week: Bean Porter, Pinellas Ale Works

When St. Petersburg’s Pinellas Ale Works held its grand opening in May 2016, it featured a baltic porter treated with vanilla and coffee that proved to be a crowd favorite. The response was so positive that the brewery made another batch of Bean Port...
Published: 01/11/18
Diet Coke gets millennial makeover, launches four new flavors

Diet Coke gets millennial makeover, launches four new flavors

Diet Coke, birthed in 1982, is getting a millennial makeover, the Coca-Cola Company announced on Wednesday. While the classic Diet Coke and its recipe will remain untouched, the beverage company is releasing new sleek packaging and a line of specialt...
Published: 01/10/18
The future of food includes insect cuisine, edible packaging, sea vegetables and more

The future of food includes insect cuisine, edible packaging, sea vegetables and more

Insect cuisine. Edible packaging. High-tech rooftop gardens. The future of food is around the corner. With a current world population of 7.2 billion, the United Nations is projecting an increase of 1 billion people over the next 12 years, and 9.6 bi...
Published: 01/10/18
Will you be drinking mushroom coffee in 2018? Here are some predicted food trends

Will you be drinking mushroom coffee in 2018? Here are some predicted food trends

By Drew JacksonBleeding veggie burgers, edible flowers and tree-based sparkling waters could be the most popular foods of the year.Whole Foods, the organics pioneer and Jeff Bezos-backed supermarket, peered into its crystal milk jug and unveiled what...
Published: 01/10/18
La Segunda Bakery to open new South Tampa location — with seats

La Segunda Bakery to open new South Tampa location — with seats

A Tampa Bay giant has stirred and is on the move. La Segunda Central Bakery, a family-owned Ybor City institution for nearly 103 years (they celebrate that birthday Jan. 15) and the largest producer of Cuban bread in the world, will open a second loc...
Published: 01/09/18