Last summer, Jim Miketo opened The Erie Social
, Ohio's first indoor shuffleboard club, just outside of Marblehead. By this coming Labor Day, he intends to open his second location, this one on Lorain Avenue in Ohio City.
No need to say it; he’s heard it a million times. Shuffleboard?
“It’s one of those things that when you get people out there for the first time they really enjoy the experience,” he explains. “And the more you play, the more you like it. What’s not to like? There’s really no physical exertion, there are low barriers to entry, and you’re able to have a few drinks while playing competitively against your friends.”
Miketo, a Cleveland native and graduate of St. Eds, lived in New York for eight years. While there he had the pleasure of visiting the Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club, located in a renovated 17,000-square-foot warehouse in Brooklyn.
“When I went there I was like, what are kids in their 20s and 30s doing playing shuffleboard? And there are two- to three-hour waits every Friday, Saturday and Sunday.”
While the Cleveland location of Erie Social won’t clock in at 17,000 square feet, it still will be quite spacious when all is said and done.
“Because the regulation courts are so long – they are 60-feet by 10-feet each – you’re limited in the number of areas you’re able to identify in Cleveland. Luckily, we were fortunate to find a building that has a large enough footprint and space to put on an addition that was able to house us.”
Formerly Supermercado Rico (4506 Lorain Ave.), the building will have a 7,500-square-foot main floor, plus additional second-floor office space. There will be five indoor courts plus two outdoor courts on the side patio, which connects both to the street and to the main space via garage doors.
“I’m pretty excited about the patio,” adds Miketo. “As the foot traffic and streetscape continues to come down Lorain, we’ll be in a position to really capitalize on that because we’ll have connectivity to the street so people can see the action; there’s a synergy to it. And with the garage doors open to the indoor courts, it’s not like you’re in some dark and dank warehouse.”
Judging by pictures of the Marblehead location, Miketo and his wife Kari go out of their way to create an entire experience as opposed to just a big bleak box with fresh wood courts. Cabanas outfitted with boldly striped fabric, lighting and other decorations combine to evoke images of a bygone era.
“What’s old is new, right?” he says. “We want to create that vibe of the ‘50s and ‘60s to evoke that sense of nostalgia that adds to the allure of the game. We have people all that time that come in and say, ‘I remember playing this with my grandma.’”
There are more ways to while away an afternoon at Erie Social than by just propelling 8-inch round discs 60 feet down the court with a 6-foot-long cue, Miketo assures us. In addition to the indoor and outdoor regulation-length shuffleboard courts, the entertainment complex will have two 22-foot tabletop versions, the sort seen in bars. Real, steel-tip darts and bristle boards, cornhole boards and vintage tabletop board games will fill the time between matches, but also help to drive midweek traffic.
“Creating that midweek presence really enhances that neighborhood, community feel,” he says. “Everybody is always looking for things to do during the week.”
Shuffleboard leagues and tournaments, cornhole matches, both indoors and out, plus dart leagues and specials like a bucket of beers and an hour of shuffleboard all will help keep The Erie Social buzzing, hopes Miketo.
Keeping the patrons buzzed, however, will be the full bar serving craft cocktails and craft draft beer. An on-site sandwich shop serving fresh, handcrafted sandwiches, salads and sides keep them well fed.
Miketo is countin down the days to Labor Day when he can raise high the garage doors and officially become part of the Ohio City community.
“It’s such a cool neighborhood down there. It has such a unique fabric, and as the community continues to grow and expand, I want to be a part of it.”
Miketo’s long-term goal is to open few more of these before franchising them to like-minded business folks.