Year opened: 2009
Age: 21+ (after 6pm)
Brooklyn Bowl, built in an iron plant originally constructed in 1876, opened to the public in 2009. The concept immediately garnered a ton of attention in NYC, and since the venue’s opening, it has undeniably grown to be one of the most desirable live music spots in the city. Following the success of the original Bowl, the owners even opened similar locations in Nashville, Philadelphia, and Las Vegas, which notably still have “Brooklyn” in their names.
Creatures of All Kinds – This rooftop is a great for a pre or post show hang with a group. It’s enclosed during the winter, featuring a vintage gondola, and opens up in the summer, so you can hang all year round. The menu features several fun twists like the indomie noodle grilled cheese or the waygu beef empanadas. Open Thurs-Sat 5pm-2am. 108 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11249. 4 min walk to Brooklyn Bowl.
more fun stuff
We caught up with Stephen Grybowski, Senior Director of Marketing for Dayglo Presents (owner of Brooklyn Bowl) where he answered a few questions for the groovement:
How have you seen the venue change over your time working there?
Honestly, like the core vibe of this room is still the same. It’s like an adult wonderland where there’s epic food, you can bowl, and there’s insane live music every single night. Brooklyn Bowl, and the vibe that we’ve created, like the magic of the bowl, the essence of it has not changed at all, it’s still like the coolest place to be. The thing that changed is the neighborhood around it. We were the second new business in the hood after the Wythe Hotel, and we were the only rock club around. Now some of the nicest hotels in New York City are within three blocks of us, there’s an insane amount of restaurants down every single block in North Williamsburg, and all sorts of nightclubs and different party spots, but the bowl has not changed. The essence of Brooklyn Bowl has remained hardcore steadfast. What’s changed the most is the neighborhood around us.
To continue, it is incredible that Brooklyn Bowl has expanded nationally. Was it really a challenge to find spots that fit the Brooklyn Bowl vibe? Or was it more about finding a venue in the right spot and working on it until it really looked and felt like a Brooklyn Bowl?
Each opportunity was different. Vegas was built as part of the Link Group. It’s the Brooklyn Bowl on steroids, it has over the top everything but still maintains our vibe. Nashville we were able to build it from the ground up. It is the perfect room. Sightlines are perfect, the bowling is really well done, the production is just top shelf. A lot of thought was put into that as we were building it from scratch. Philadelphia was a different kind of thing where there was a bowling alley that was not being used as a music venue. We were able to retrofit it, turn that space into the Bowl vibe. If you go to any of the rooms, you feel the Brooklyn Bowl vibe in the air. We have done a really good job of maintaining our vibe in each room and making it special to each market.
Obviously, the pandemic came at a really inconvenient time. And essentially the worst industry to be in during that time was live music. How did you guys stay afloat during that time?
We unfortunately had to furlough most people, on all of our teams, because of the fact that there was no income from all of our rooms for over a year. It was the darkest time in the live music industry. We maintained a very, very small team to help keep the lights on to ensure that the Bowls didn’t go away. We come out of the Grateful Dead and the jam band scene as a whole. It’s part of our main ethos and we are very much aligned with that scene. So we’ve been live streaming shows for years before COVID, and most of our rooms are fully retrofitted with multi camera systems.
We’ve also shot almost every show we’ve ever done. So we were sitting on a massive bank of past live performances, and we run the live streaming platform Fans. So we were very lucky that we were able to premiere a bunch of videos from our vault that year while all the talent was off tour. We worked with each town team to put out a bunch of never before seen videos, sometimes for free. We did a lot of fundraising for charity over the course of the pandemic with a lot of our old video content. We also were able to curate a few celebratory marathons with past video content. We did a big thing around Bob Weir’s birthday, we did a big thing around Susan (last name)’s birthday, which were really well received. We also rebroadcast the last time the core four members of the Grateful Dead performed at Soldier Field on our anniversary.
And, when it was safe to bring in a small production crew, we started doing live shows from our venues with no audience. We streamed Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires’ acoustic set during the first half of COVID at Brooklyn Bowl Nashville. In the Bowls, there’s all these TV screens, so we would put fans on zoom and we broadcast all of those people from their homes on those TV screens. There were hundreds of people, some making signs and stuff like that, with a different person on each TV screen. That was pretty powerful. Then, once it was safe to have people back in the rooms, depending on the city, we did limited capacity crowds where we could. And now we are fully back!
What are the bowl’s most important values?
What bands or artists have you seen launch their careers at Brooklyn Bowl?
What is your most memorable night at the bowl?
It’s either Robert Plant, or Usher backed by The Roots.
Final question, and the most important one. What is the best food item at Brooklyn Bowl?
The fried chicken with honey and hot sauce on top.