Heading out for a night on the town? You might want to bring a ping pong paddle — because a new bar in downtown Hamilton is merging nightlife with table tennis.
Slated to open mid-September, Serve Ping Pong Bar and Lounge will be taking over a section of the old Hamilton Spectator building at 107 King Street East. Ownership has been busy with renovations to the 10,000 square foot space, plastering, painting – oh, and putting in 12 ping pong tables.
But why ping pong? And why Hamilton? One of the founders, Kevin Huynh, explained.
"When I go out, personally, I'm always looking for something to do," Hyunh explained. "We've gone through phases with sports and drinking – darts, bowling, but ping pong was untapped."
Hyunh, a mortgage broker from Hamilton, and his three business partners decided to combine their passion for sport with their love of nightlife to open the space.
But it couldn't be just any sport, he said. It had to be casual to match the bar's atmosphere. It had to be a hobby.
A childhood love affair with the sport
"Hamilton is a hobby city," he said. And the hobby they focused on was something they'd been playing casually for years.
"We grew up playing ping pong in our buddies' basements," Hyunh said. "We'd play ping pong when we went anywhere on vacation."
"So we were sitting around, looking for a new project to take on. We went, 'We all like food, we all like to drink and we all like to play ping pong. Why not open something that combines that?"
During that planning process, a bar called Spin opened in Toronto with the same concept. But Hyunh says his bar will be more casual than Spin, with less of a focus on competition and more on a social atmosphere.
Hamilton was the perfect location for their vision, he said.
A revitalized downtown
"We see the revitalization starting to come back to Hamilton," Hyunh said. "But there's still not enough amenities downtown. If you're not eating or drinking, there's not much to go out and do on a Friday or Saturday night."
The last hurdle for Hyunh and his group is waiting for the liquor license, which he says could take anywhere from a couple weeks to a couple months to be approved.
Until then, they're busy planning everything else beyond liquor.
Serve plans to hold tournaments and advanced classes, bringing in national and international stars to give demonstrations and instructions to the casual players.
So until September, better start training with a mug in one hand and a paddle in the other.