After a day in the sun, take the fun indoors at Virginia Beach’s first shuffleboard bar. Beachside Social is a laidback and inviting space for friends and families to gather and enjoy games, delicious bites and freshly shaken cocktails. Owners Livia and Ashish Patel found themselves enthralled by the game of shuffleboard while living in New York several years ago and they saw an opportunity to bring it home to Virginia Beach where Ashish grew up.
Transport beachside with us as we share how the Patel’s launched into entrepreneurship.
How It All Began
Livia and Ashish worked as finance consultants while in New York where they met but Ashish had a different vision for the future. He shares, “My family is made up of business owners and I always wanted that. I am open to ideas and was looking for [a change].” The building Beachside Social occupies is owned by Ashish’s family and the second floor sat vacant for years. “Everything aligned. We knew about this space and played shuffleboard often… It clicked right away,” he continues. Livia was invested in the idea from the start. She shares, “His drive for the business was noticeable to me and we asked ourselves ‘what do we want to do long-term?” The answer was easy; the husband-wife duo left the big apple and got to work creating and establishing an epicenter for family fun, date nights, birthday parties and beyond.
“We offer people the possibility to do something unique that they don’t get to do usually.”Livia Patel, owner
Beachside Social takes you back in time as if you stepped onto a cruise ship in the early 1900s. The open-concept building is 10,000 sq. ft. with large windows looking out to the ocean. Blue and white pinstripe umbrellas adorn each table by the shuffleboard courts and pink diner-style stools line the bar. Livia shares, “We worked with a great designer who saw this facade of a building in Miami and it gives a portion of the space a look like the upper deck of a ship.” There’s duality in the atmosphere, a blend of posh meets laidback where you may find a group hosting a rehearsal dinner or a kid’s birthday party. “When people come around the corner they say, this is not what I was expecting!” Ash explains.
The rules of shuffleboard are rather simple, and the Beachside Social team gives guests a short lesson when they come to play. “We can teach people in just one minute. We will often ask people if they are familiar with table shuffleboard and explain that it is the same but on a larger scale,” Livia explains. When asked what three words they would use to describe the game, they share: easy, hard and competitive. “It is easy to learn but hard to master,” Livia says.
You use tall poles with claw-like ends called tangs to shuffle discs called biscuits across the court, aiming to land them in the triangle for points. Watch out for your competitors! Similar to cornhole and pool, you can knock your opponents’ biscuits out of the way on your turn. The couple’s favorite aspect of the game is the range of competition. Livia says with a big smile, “I love the competitive nature and love knocking people out of the way, especially because I have good aim.”
Ashish shares how people will come to play and expect to try it out for 15 minutes or so. Then an hour passes by and they express how much fun they are having and how quickly the time passed. Walk-ins are encouraged and rentals are taken by the hour. Though shuffleboard isn’t all there is to play. There are several other games sprinkled throughout the space such as bocce ball, Jenga and board games.
Ashish and Livia are members of the National Shuffleboard Association and host leagues throughout the year at Beachside Social. “We have superstitions in my league. One team member will only play with a glass of red wine in their hand,” Ashish says while laughing.
The food menu is catered to one-handed, shareable bites that are easy to eat while playing. “We care about the food being delicious and want people to know what they are getting,” Livia shares. Therefore, the menu is filled with crowd-favorites like sliders and flatbreads. As for refreshments, they make homemade fruit syrups for their cocktails which are more tart-to-taste. The signature cocktail is the Beachside Mojito made with fresh mint and finished with a splash of watermelon spritz. Another local favorite is the Shufflin’ Spritzer which is a mix of prosecco, elderflower liquor, black raspberry liqueur and fresh blackberries.
Proudest Moment & Biggest Obstacle
Ashish and Livia are proud of the league they built over the years, which they describe as the backbone of the business. “When we started, we only had 18 teams in a season. After two seasons, we had 60 teams. It is people of all ages, and we get to know them and they get to know us,” he shares. The league has grown to almost 500 people today and has become a community with deepening friendships.
The biggest obstacle they have faced is COVID-19. Livia says it is the obvious answer but explains that it was tough when restaurants were allowed to open but they had to hold off because they are considered a ‘gaming area.’ “We made the tough decision to stay closed longer. People don’t view us as a sit-down restaurant,” Asishs explains. They didn’t want to reopen without shuffleboard but did have to consider what it would mean for their business and their future.
Advice for Aspiring Business Owners
Livia’s advice is to invest in people. “Whether your business is 100 sq. ft. or 10,000 sq. ft., you have to have people around you who believe in what you are doing. You also have to recognize you can’t invest in everyone and have to consider where your energy should be spent.” She believes in making a genuine connection with team members as well — taking an interest in their lives and knowing their struggles.
From Ashish’s perspective, “We had about 20 employees when we first opened. It was hard to hire that many people all at once and it was hard to find the right mix. We figured out the formula within the first few months and have had a lot of people with us for 2.5 years and more.”
Experience All That Beachside Social Has to OfferDrop by for a game or reserve time to play on the website. If you are interested in hosting a party at Beachside Social, check out the website for additional information. Plus, keep up with new happenings on their Facebook and Instagram.