Grab those ping pong paddles, as AceBounce —Chicago's newest table tennis restaurant— opens today, just south of the Chicago River on Clark Street. The staff has adapted the popular British chain to Chicago sensibilities, bringing on former Virgin Hotels Chicago chef Rick Gresh to handle the menu at their restaurant, 1901.
In honor of opening day, here are five facts about the second ping pong restaurant to open this year in Chicago:
- AceBounce is an English import, and Chicago marks their first location in the U.S. They went with a new name, as the London locations are known as Bounce. They debuted in 2012.
- The restaurant's name is 1901. That's the year the first book of ping pong rules was published in England and the year the game was trademarked.
- AceBounce serves a version of Chicago classic shrimp DeJonghe, as there's not a huge emphasis on English food. But the menu doesn't escape the British influence. For example, the ahi tartar is served with papadum, the round fried flour discs Indian immigrants popularized in England.
- If patrons look closely on the walls, they'll see barely-visible patterns. Guests will find them throughout the venue. Later at night, staff turns on UV light which reveals those patterns, giving the spot a different feel and atmosphere.
- Chicago is the first of several planned in the U.S. But AceBounce CEO Adam Breeden hinted in March that they weren't done in Chicago, saying they have plans for another concept. They opened Flight Club Darts in October in London, taking the same laid-back approach to darts as they do with ping pong. The concept centers around being social, so the rules do involve actually talking about Flight Club. Expect a version of the spot to soon arrive in Chicago.
AceBounce, 230 N. Clark St., (773) 219-0900, open Monday through Thursday, 4 p.m. to midnight; open for lunch at noon on Friday through Sunday. Kids welcome all-day on Sunday and until 6 p.m. other days; Ages 21+ after 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday.