Feather Bowling – WTF Is it?!

Would you enjoy playing a sport that’s part curling, part shuffleboard and involves and feather and some cheese wheel-lookin’ things? Then Feather Bowling might be your new favorite sport. 

The only problem? There’s only one place in the entire country you can play it!

But the good news is… it’s right here in Detroit, only 20 minutes from the Professor Haus!

Ok, let me start at the beginning. 

So sometimes my brain tells me to do things that work in my favor, like “Google the oldest restaurants in Detroit and file them away in the card catalogue in your brain.”

It’s worked out really well for us so far.

We ate German Food at a place that opened in 1933. We sang the Schnitzelbank song and ate so much sausage. It was an excellent way to ring in both mine and the restaurant’s birthday this year!

And then one day we were out adventuring and my brain gave me a historical tickle alarm. That historical tickle told me that this place I’d been wanting to check out was nearby – Nancy Whisky – one of the oldest bars in Detroit!

Now, I’ve never been to this place nor did I do anything other than see it on a map one time. And we all know my brain can’t remember what anything looks like ever, so that was really no help whatsoever. But something told me that we were close, so I asked Mickey – 

“Wanna go to Nancy Whisky?” and we mapped it and it was like 5 minutes away. My brain is so weird. 

But Nancy Whisky was an amazing afternoon stop. An eclectic array of people and a metric fuck ton of history, up to and including the phone booth that Jimmy Hoffa used to use as his office. I stood in there to feel the air. It was pretty neat. 

So, one of the other historical Detroit historical eats on my brain list was a Belgian spot called Cadieux Cafe. It’s been open since 1933 as well and is the home to the aforementioned “Only Feather Bowling Alley in the Entire Country”.

And multiple options for mussel dinners. Y’all, I think mussels might be the food I could die eating. Like, I think if you just kept putting bowls of mussels in front of me and I would just keep eating them. 

Luckily this place has all-you-can-eat mussel dinners on Monday nights, so I’ll get to put that theory to the test at some point. Who would like to call dibs on writing my death-by-mussels eulogy?

Ok, but mussels aside, there was also something called Feather Bowling at Cadieux Cafe andI, of course, had to know more. 

When we arrived at the place, I didn’t even really have a choice. 

It wasn’t like walking into the front door of a restaurant or bar. It was like sneaking into the backyard of a friend’s house and awkwardly trying to figure out where the rest of the party you were invited to was. 


And then you spy a door on the building, so you go in it, expecting to be in a restaurant type thing, but no, instead you have found the party. 

And by party, I mean Feather Bowling. And You cannot figure out how to find the mussels, so you watch a bit. 

I will now explain what I saw, my first impression of Feather Bowling, if you will. 

It looks fun and uncomplicated. 

It’s kind of like shuffleboard on a lane that’s curved inward. The lanes are made of sand that is packed down pretty hard. I have no idea on the length. Like a bowling lane maybe?

At either end of the lane is a  single feather, just kind of stuck in the sand. I do not know what sort of birb the feather came from. Looks pretty standard bird colored. 

There are no balls or sufflecocks or whatever the shuffleboard discy things are called, but instead these things that look like wheels of cheese. I wonder, in Belgium proper, if they use actual wheels of cheese? Seems like a waste of cheese to me. 

It’s so fun to watch this sport though. The way the cheeses (that’s what I’m calling them and you can’t stop me) roll down the alley is downright hypnotic. I know I’ll be terrible at it, but I really can’t wait to play. 

So the point of the game is to roll your cheese down the lane and get as close to the feather as possible. At least that’s what it looked like to me!

Here are the “official rules” directly from the Cadieux Cafe website:

“The game can be played by any number of participants. Once this is settled, divide the players into two teams, a red team and a green team. If there are more than three people on a team, players may have to stay on opposite ends of the lane from their teammates. When the teams are set, a coin flip is used to determine which color starts. This team then rolls all six of its balls, attempting to place them as close as possible to the feather protruding from the lane approximately sixty feet away.”

And then it goes into some stuff about strategy and whatever and then talks about how to win. 

“Scoring the “end” after all twelve balls are rolled is determined by which color is closest to the feather. The number of points is determined by the number of balls that the scoring team has closer to the feather than the opposing team’s closest ball. There is a one point minimum and a six point maximum per end. Balls that touched the backdrop behind each lane are disqualified and should be removed before rolling the next ball.

The game is over when one of the teams reaches ten points or more (winning by two points is not required). An average game takes about forty-five minutes.”

It seems like I was mostly correct. It sounds like a lot of fun, so I guess we’ll be renting a Feather Bowling lane before I gorge myself to death on mussels. 

Which they also serve with pommes frites and MAYO!!!! Whee, I loved that! Did I mention how delicious the mussels were yet? I had my choice of four juices to soak them in and I chose the most traditional – garlic, olive oil and white wine. I’ll eventually try all four, I suspect. 

Also, while we ate, a band was setting up. They looked to be the swaggiest. The drummer was a gentleman in a leather suit, the guitar player was a pattern-loving prince and it was not what I expected to see based on how the place looked inside. 

Oh, I guess I should explain that too. The restaurant area was more like a Moose Lodge, but like a punk rock version. You know, long tables with chairs and a small bar. And pounds and pounds of personality. It was a vibe. 

So, I guess when I die my mussel death, I’ll make sure that band is playing so I can see what their sound’s like… or maybe we’ll get Eugene Snowden up here and really do it up right. 

So, that’s Feather Bowling. Wanna come up and play sometime?

p.s. I will be uploading some videos of the games we watched after dinner to my Facebook Page after hitting publish. Look in the comments for this blog post!



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