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BOWLING OVER LOCALS

Eyeing 'jack': Revelers enjoy the 40-foot by 5-foot red clay bocce court inside Floyd, NY on Atlantic Avenue. Bowlers attempt to roll their large balls closest to the small
The Brooklyn Papers / Tom Callan

The weekly drink specials are not what’s
enticing night crawlers to Floyd, NY, a new bar on Atlantic Avenue
in Brooklyn Heights. It isn’t the eclectic tunes on the jukebox
or the hip crowd hanging around, either. Instead, revelers are
drawn by a good, old-fashioned game of bocce.



Inspired by a bar with a couple of outdoor bocce ball courts
and a Winnebago selling cans of Budweiser for a dollar in southern
Florida, Floyd co-owners Andy Templar and Jim and Pam Carden
picked up two truckloads of red clay from Staten Island and started
building.



"What I loved about the place in Florida is that it was
out in the middle of nowhere and still it attracted all sorts
of people," Jim Carden, 36, told GO Brooklyn.



Floyd, named after Pam Carden’s hometown of Floyd, Iowa, opened
on Aug. 30. It’s not in the middle of nowhere, but its bocce
court is in a place where one would least expect to find it –
inside. (To those who have never ventured into Carroll Gardens
or Bensonhurst, bocce is an Italian game similar to lawn bowling
that uses wooden balls on a long, narrow court covered in dirt
or gravel.)



Past the dimly lit lounge and a lengthy, crowded bar, a faint
glow shines from the 40-foot by 5-foot bocce court, fully equipped
with wooden borders and clay dirt.



Here, unlike a traditional bocce court, you won’t find old Italian
men decked out in white or cigar smoke lingering in the air;
the only language spoken is an ongoing babble of drunken cheers
and jeers for the players.



Curious onlookers, from teachers to law school students, sip
pints of beer and watch each play while the likes of Luscious
Jackson and The Clash emanate from the jukebox.



"Our overall [prerequisite] for music in the jukebox was
that it had to have a raw quality, nothing overproduced – OK,
except Prince because you can’t not include him," said Jim
Carden.



Behind the court, one chalkboard lists the rules of the game
while another, hanging loosely on a brick pillar, allows patrons
to sign up for a match as they please.



In the midst of it all, friends and bocce ball teammates Erik
Nadoban, 31, and Paul Glankler, 39, of Cobble Hill were heating
things up on the court on a recent night.



"We’re on our third game," Nadoban said, "but
that doesn’t mean that we’re the champions of the game. We’re
only better than the two previous teams."



Nadoban and Glankler played in five matches before they were
knocked out.



The rules of the game are relatively simple: a small plastic
ball called the "pallino" or "jack," similar
in size and style to a pingpong ball, is tossed onto the court.
Opposing teams then toss larger, heavier balls in the direction
of the pallino. Points are awarded to the team whose balls land
closest to the pallino.



At Floyd, the first team to score seven points wins. Although
seven points may sound like a few quick games, some matches can
last more than 30 minutes as teams concentrate on displacing
their opponent’s balls, scoring only one point per game. Sometimes
the competition is so heated that measuring tape is required
to detrmine the distance between each team’s balls.



The Cardens and Templar plan to start a bocce league on Sunday
and Monday nights that will run similar to a bowling league with
round robin play and tournaments. Anyone can play, and cash and
other prizes will be awarded.



Around the court, players and observers become fast friends (some
even become bocce ball partners), strategies are shared, and
beers are passed around.



"We want to make friends with our neighborhood," said
head bartender Colin Hodges, 29, of Carroll Gardens. "Our
motto is to always keep an affordable, cheap option for people."



One of Floyd’s "cheap options" is the "Crap-a-copia."
For $12, beer guzzlers will receive a bucket filled with a six-pack
of cheap canned beers including Schlitz, Old Milwaukee, Miller
High Life, Colt 45, Stroh’s and Pabst Blue Ribbon.



"For the working class," added Hodges with a chuckle.



Another equally unpretentious option is the "45 and a bullet,"
a can of Colt 45 malt liquor and a rail shot for $6.



In the front half of the room, large vintage couches and tables
– some from the movie sets where Jim worked in production for
13 years – provide a sweet sense of home.



"We wanted to create two distinct areas, something comfy
so that people feel like they’re hanging out in someone’s living
room," said Jim.



The crowd, a mix of neighborhood folk, enjoys the chill atmosphere
Floyd, NY provides. They lounge on the couches, chat with the
bartenders or friends at the bar or nearby tables, and, of course,
mill around the bocce court.



"I love it here," Nadoban said. "I love the bocce."



It even has a place for dogs – water bowls, toys, and all.



What more could anyone ask for?

 

Floyd, NY is located at 131 Atlantic
Ave. between Henry and Clinton streets in Brooklyn Heights. The
bar is open from 5 pm to 4 am Monday through Friday and from
1 pm to 4 am on Saturdays and Sundays. All canned beers are $3
each. Draft beers and domestic and import bottles are $3.50 to
$4.50 each. Floyd, NY accepts American Express, Master Card,
and Visa. For more information, call (718) 858-5810.


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