The Brooklyn Bowl Empire Expands

Photograph by Oliver Rudkin

In the summer of 2012, the New York Times published a front-page story about food trucks arriving in Paris. In it, the author claimed that in these mobile culinary hotspots, the highest compliment a dish could receive was to be called “très Brooklyn.” What this appellation meant, exactly, has never been clear. In the article, its author, Julia Moskin, writes that it is supposed to connote “a particularly cool combination of informality, creativity and quality.” Recently, over email, she wrote that, in fact, she’d heard her friends use it to refer to “a particular steampunk-ish aesthetic that ranged from reclaimed wood and vintage clothes to graffiti and skateboard logos to muttonchop whiskers.” On Twitter, people use the #TrèsBrooklyn hashtag to refer to everything from a bar that has a record player as a sound system to “rad, local salsas.”

Brooklyn Bowl sits at the center of a few Brooklyns. It fits perfectly in a homogenized iteration of Brooklyn in a newly gentrified part of town frequented by rich people from around the world. It hosts interesting indie bands. It takes pride in the quality of its food. And, ultimately, it’s a safe space for families and those people who want some sort of alternative experience that isn’t confrontational. This makes it uniquely well-suited to succeed outside of Brooklyn. The fact that this interest in Brooklyn is largely because of the artists and musicians who can barely afford to live here anymore is an unfortunate irony.

Photograph by Oliver Rudkin
Photograph by Oliver Rudkin

Perhaps what’s most admirable about Shapiro’s expansion of Brooklyn Bowl is how true he stays to his own instincts. For him, making Brooklyn Bowl represent Brooklyn comes down to how authentically it recreates the original Brooklyn Bowl. He doesn’t seem to care if anyone else thinks it’s authentically Brooklyn or not. In the end, that’s likely not what’s going to make a tourist in Vegas, London, or (who knows?) Los Angeles, Buenos Aires, Minnesota, or anywhere else decide whether to spend some time and money there.

“That’s the challenge: to bring our vibe and feel and to bring Brooklyn Bowl, really, as true as we can, to there. That doesn’t exist in Vegas right now. If we can bring it, we think we’ll do well. We want it to go well. It’ll have to, or it’ll fuck things up.”


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