Here's a new game to have on your radar: feather bowling.
The Belgian game (more on that later), is the center piece of a 7,000-square-foot expansion at Randolph Beer in DUMBO. Owner Dave Plate has been trying to import the one-of-a-kind game to this side of the Atlantic for years and, after a pandemic that halted his original plans to lease out a waterfront flagship in Williamsburg, he was able to secure the empty space next door to his bar, now home to two 72-feet-long and 9-feet-wide feather bowling courts.
According to Grub Street, the origins of feather bowling are murky, which is also why Plate and his team are still working on a set of rules to post for everyone to follow. Legend has it that the game was invented by farmers in Belgium, who used wheels of cheese aimed at feathers to play the pastime while bored. Although, in Belgium, one can easily find courts around town, Americans' familiarity with the game is limited to Cadieux Cafe in Detroit which, according to Grub Street, "has operated authentic courts in the U.S. since its founding in 1933 and still boasts what is easily this country's liveliest feather bowling scene." The outlet also reports that Plate has traveled to Michigan to get a feel for the game firsthand.
Reminiscent of shuffleboard (another popular game in DUMBO!), feather bowling requires each team to get the oddly-shaped, five-pound ball as close to the target (usually, a pigeon feather but, at Randolph Beer, an ostrich one since it's easier to spot) as possible. Each team gets to throw six balls from one side of the court before the next group gets its turn.
Clearly a group activity, feather bowling is likely to entice folks who have been craving human contact at the moment. Add to it that fact that a match requires an in-person audience and you've got yourself an ideal post-pandemic pastime.
The food on offer on premise will also cater to groups: expect large, shareable dishes that will allow patrons to easily nosh on delicacies while sipping on a slew of specialty beers and playing the game. Plate and his team will be adding pools tables, 10 vintage arcade games, a 12-foot foosball table, three Skee-Ball lanes and pinball machines to the space, turning Randolph Beer into a major game center of sorts.
The new space will officially open to the public on May 5. You'll find us Googling "best feather bowling tactics" until then.
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