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Wicker Park, Bucktown, West Town

A First Look At Royal Palms’ Rooftop Shuffleboard Court

Players can stay on "The Challenge Court" as long as they keep on winning.

The Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club's new rooftop court is located on a 165-seat "lido deck."
Alisa Hauser/Block Club Chicago
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BUCKTOWN—  The shuffleboard scene in Bucktown just got a whole lot sunnier, thanks to a much-anticipated new rooftop court and bar on Royal Palms’ “lido deck.”

“Every day, we are getting calls from people asking ‘when will the rooftop open?'” said Taylor Levy, events manager for Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club during a tour of the 162-seat deck on Monday.

With some final design touches wrapping up, the rooftop shuffleboard court is expected to “soft open” this week and officially debut next week, Levy said.

Located at 1750 N. Milwaukee Ave., Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club opened in March. Unlike the 10 courts on the club’s main floor which cost $40 per hour to rent and are sort of like bowling alley lanes available first-come first-served, the rooftop court will be free with one caveat: players need to win if they want to keep playing.

“It will be a ‘winner stays on’ challenge court, with an LED counter, where you take a ticket [number, to get in line] and whomever is playing is your opponent. If you win, you stay on, and if you don’t you are out,” said Royal Palms’ co-owner Ashley Albert.

Albert says they’re calling the rooftop The Lido Deck because it looks and feels a bit like a cruise ship’s recreational lido deck.

Reminiscent of “The Love Boat,” a sitcom from the late 70s and 80s that took place on a cruise ship, the deck offers plenty of places to sit and lounge. 

Best viewed while riding the passing L train— as it runs north along Milwaukee Avenue between Wicker Park’s Damen and Bucktown’s Western Blue Line “L” stops— the triangular-shaped deck features a regulation size 6-foot-wide by 40-foot-long shuffleboard court and full bar.

Albert said guests can buy food downstairs at one of the rotating weekly food trucks and bring it up to the deck. 

The 8-tap rooftop bar will have a full drink menu with beer and tropical cocktails plus some “extra surprises,” such as new cocktails only available on the lido deck, Albert said. 

As an extra perk, the lido deck is a good option for people who want to play shuffleboard on Monday or Tuesday night but are not registered for a summer league— those folks can play on the rooftop court while the matches, which run at 6, 7 and 8 p.m., are happening downstairs. The courts on the main floor are closed to the public during Monday and Tuesday night leagues. 

“I am interested in seeing the grudge matches that will take place, the people that will say, ‘let’s continue this on the roof’ after the leagues end downstairs,” Albert added. 

The new lido deck and challenge court were announced on Monday by Royal Palms co-owner Jonathan Schnapp in an email to league members.

“Maybe you’ve seen it while cruising by on the blue line or maybe you’ve just envisioned it in your dreams… Beginning this week The Royal Palms will debut it’s new roof deck! We’re calling the roof top court The Challenge Court… it’s free to play and the winner stays on (like a bar room pool table) We’ve got a full juicy bar up there too to keep you hydrated and plenty of umbrellas to shield you from the rays. The Lido Deck is a product of a ton of hard work by our fearless leader Pluckypea and so many others and we can’t wait to share it with you,” Schnapp wrote.

A view of the new deck. [Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club]

A look at the rooftop shuffleboard court as seen through the dirt-specked window of the passing L train. [Alisa Hauser/Block Club Chicago] 
Taylor Levy on The Challenge Court. [Alisa Hauser/Block Club Chicago] 
Court-side seats and tables on the lido deck. [Alisa Hauser/Block Club Chicago] 

Bleacher-stye seating for watching the action up close. [Alisa Hauser/Block Club Chicago] 
The L train runs past the deck. [Alisa Hauser/Block Club Chicago] 

The lido deck bar will offer the same drink menu as downstairs with a few new cocktails. [Alisa Hauser/Block Club Chicago] 

Joe Rosado, a locally-based handyman, stains the rooftop deck. [Alisa Hauser/Block Club Chicago]