Birdies, a bar devoted to simulated golf, opens in Patchogue
It began as a plan hatched during a pandemic: A cocktail-slash-golf simulation bar, somewhere on Long Island. Ashley Kost and friend Andy Kovacs didn't work in hospitality — each had other day jobs — but they were nevertheless driven by the vision, so much so that they were willing to stake their life savings on it. "We had seen similar models in the city and thought this could work in a more suburban area. We also thought, ‘we could do it better,’" said Kovacs, a longtime golfer.
When they saw a long-empty space on North Ocean Avenue, the partners looked past the cinder block walls, cement floors and dug-up yard to envision what their place might eventually look like. Ten months of "nose to the grindstone" later, Kovacs said, Birdies opened in February as an airy, Art-Deco-influenced cocktail bar and lounge with emerald green velvet booths, a sleek, 50-foot marble bar, a gravel beer garden, and a second floor divvied up into bays for golf simulation games. "It was a big risk to open a bar at the height of the pandemic," said Kost, standing in the space she mostly designed, "but a total passion project." (Prior to Birdies, Kost designed jewelry and worked in social media).
For $60 an hour, groups can book one of Birdies' six bays for hundreds of simulated games — projected onto a screen in front of turf — including 150 replicated courses from around the world. Golf professionals can do custom instruction and club fittings by appointment. There is a small putting area and a few arcade games, as well as tables and leather couches at each simulator.
Yet with its overlong bar downstairs, Birdies doubles as a cocktail lounge, with mixed drinks designed by longtime bartender and now-partner Lance Holloway, who was coaxed from Brooklyn to head Birdies’ bar program. Among the cocktails is a spicy-tart Sandbagger, a blend of mezcal, blood orange, lime and simple syrup served on the rocks with a stick of cinnamon and a tajin-salt rim. (There is wine, bottled and draft beer, and hard seltzer, too, as well as a few non-alcoholic brews).
Food-wise, the owners have kept it simple — there is no kitchen — partnering with Rhum, a restaurant whose back door lies just across an alley from their own, for snacks. At each table and booth is a QR code that calls up a menu and ordering system; after orders are placed, a Rhum server soon appears with snacks such as duck empanadas or a Bavarian pretzel, leaving it wordlessly at the table and disappearing back out the door to Rhum. "It’s like magic," said Kovacs, but added that food trucks will also make appearances in warmer weather in the beer garden, where they will also be games such as giant Jenga and cornhole.
"We wanted it to be a place that you could come even if you weren’t playing golf, where you could have drinks here and go to a restaurant after," Kost said. She and her husband are expecting their second child in a few months, and Kost was surprised and happy to see other young families in the house on Birdies’ opening day. "I couldn’t believe how many strollers there were."
Birdies opens at noon during the week and 9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday at 17 N. Ocean Ave., Patchogue. 631-654-4653; birdiesli.com