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Just off the intersection of John and King Street, Serve Ping Pong Bar & Lounge is an entertaining spin on the increasingly popular hobby bar.
Similar in premise to a pool bar or a board-game cafe, patrons can come for a beer or a bite to eat, then hit the tables for some casual or competitive table tennis. With Ping Pong balls scattered all over the floor and a pitcher of beer positioned next to a group of friends heavily invested in their match, the bar is a playground for adults to come and relax with some friends for the night.
“It’s a good social experience, it’s something you can do with friends,” said Gianmarco Silano, one of four founding partners of Serve.
“Anybody can do it, you can be as good as you want, as bad as you want; people seem to have a great time with it.”
The bar, housed on the second floor of 105-115 King St. East, occupies 10,000 square feet of space in a building that once belonged to the Hamilton Spectator in the early 1900s. There’s a historic charm to the interior as well, with some brick-and-mortar contrasting with a more urban aesthetic.
“I’d say [it has] a rustic-industrial kind of feel, but with newer touches to bring it up-to-date,” said Silano.
“We’re trying to keep the old with the new.”
The bar blends a lot of different elements beyond just its aesthetic, as it’s divided into a quieter sit-down area dotted with paddle-shaped menus, available for people to chat and watch the game, to the expansive floor filled with tables and blaring music.
The price to play is a touch expensive with each table at $20 an hour, but Serve has already been fairly popular amongst customers in its first several months.
“It seems like everybody’s enjoying it so far,” he said. “Our crowd’s been awesome, people really seem to warm to the space; really good vibes from everybody. That’s something I’ve noticed in general from Hamilton, everybody seems to be very positive and supportive, especially if you’re starting a business.”
The space had been vacant for several years before Silano and his partners opened the bar this past October. According to Silano, the idea first came up when one of the partners first bought the building.
“It was so large and expansive that he had the idea to try and do a ping pong bar,” Silano said. “He loves to play ping pong, we used to play growing up in high school.”
That premise of playing and competing with friends is what Silano hopes people will continue to come out for.
“It’s something to do in the winter; if you want to go to a bar, you can’t go to a patio, so if you know you’re stuck inside at a bar, you’re [at least] moving around, you’re competitive, you’re having fun,” said Silano.
“We also have that aspect where you can go watch the game or sit down at a table and eat something; you can experience it in different ways if you want to, and I just think it’s a fun thing to do.”
Photo Credits: Jon White/Photo Editor