Looks like ping pong's ready for the mainstream in Chicago, as SPiN, a four-location table tennis-centered bar/restaurant chain co-owned by actress Susan Sarandon, is coming to River North. The pending arrival of the New York-based chain was first reported by Marina City News.
The company's planning to move into a 16,000-square-foot spot inside Marina City, 300 N. State St. There will be 15 to 20 pingpong tables, which patrons can reserve hourly. Pricing hasn't be finalized for Chicago. New York's SPiN charges $50 for half an hour. They've also got locations in Los Angeles, Toronto and Dubai, with plans on the board for Brussels. There was one in Milwaukee, but ownership there broke away from the franchise. ETA on the Chicago spot is this summer or early fall.
Food wise, SPiN isn't ready to divulge menu specifics on items, said chief marketing officer Shawn Topp. He said SPiN wants to ensure the food and drinks encourage socializing, much in the inter-personal way ping pong does.
"We'll be offering a range of shareable items inspired by the notion of American classics," Topp said. Sustainable and local ingredients will be on the menu, and there will be drinks "inspired by the long history of cocktail culture in Chicago."
The company prides itself on making the sport accessible to a variety of customers of different ages and backgrounds. Justin Bieber has even been allowed on the premises, and the L.A. SPiN location has a huge photo mural of Barack Obama playing table tennis. How's that for diversity?
Ping pong at Chicago bars isn't anything new. Streeters and Happy Village are among the places where bar-goers can swing a paddle. So what will distinguish SPiN from the others besides premium prices to help offset the property taxes in River North? Topp said SPiN will donate money to charity, saying they feel honored to be part of the communities they enter. They also donate table time to local schools, hoping to expose kids to ping pong. Would that make them, "SPiN instructors?" In Chicago, SPiN will work with The Remix Project.
"We feel strongly about giving back to those communities, specifically in the realm of working with underprivileged and marginalized youth," Topp said.
UPDATE: As an alert Facebook reader pointed out, there was a Milwaukee SPiN, but it rebranded last year and changed names.