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Social revolution?

Attention gets focused on how much time we spend alone with our devices. Even if we're connecting with people through them, it's not the same as actual interaction. What to do, what to do? That's right, start a ping pong hall where diverse crowds come together and bond.

Seattle SPiN

Jonathan Bricklin and Franck Raharinosy met while making a film in New York. Franck lived there; Jonathan had just moved there. They hit it off and had so much fun working together, they wanted to do other projects with each other. Fast forward to a shared loft in Tribeca in 2007. About 10 friends would get together and play ping pong at the loft. Word got out about how fun their Friday night parties, called Naked Ping Pong, were and their list grew. Even though nudity never had its day, it did peak interest. They ate, they drank, they played. Athletes, movie stars, ping pong professionals, regular folks.

"My interest in ping pong was just about having a place to play and have fun," recalls Jonathan. "I did try out for the Olympics one year, but was eliminated immediately." Although they served alcohol and food, and people paid to get in, they didn't see this as a career. And 2008 wasn't the best time to look for financial backers. Yet they moved forward and opened SPiN in New York City in 2009. With Seattle, they are up to seven locations.

SPiN bar

You're thinking "Tribeca loft, famous people, ping pong"-I'm too sexy for my shirt, right? And you would be so wrong. Franck, Jonathan, and the teams they have put together are people who are having a great time going to work every day. Low key, friendly, excited about how it's all working. "It's a casual way for people to get to know each other, to talk to other people watching the players, to hang out in a fun atmosphere without pressure," says Franck. They're proud that they're providing jobs for professional ping pong players as well as others. You can take lessons from a professional player.

Local (and some non) artists have created murals on the walls, there is a pink confessional booth on the way into the restrooms, Olympic ping pong tables throughout, and a great sound system. Seating on the floor near tables allows better viewing of the action, and there a few booths between the pong tables and the full bar, along with seats at the bar.

"Our food has evolved over the years," says Franck. At first, they contracted the food out. After about a year, they began handling it themselves. In Seattle, they hired Charlie Curtis as their chef. "People at SPiN are so overwhelmingly positive," he says. "They want to be at work. It's a great environment. It's goofy people doing something in a very effective way. Food-wise, we're elevating hand food. You have to be able to pick up food and eat while you're playing, or maybe standing near a table watching. You don't want something dripping down your arm. We also do a lot of shared items, like flatbread, so people can just grab a square. There are some items you'll find in all the clubs, like truffle fries, a burger, flatbreads. But we'll put our twist on things, like using alder wood smoked salmon on flatbread or in fritters. We use Painted Hills beef, Washington apples, and local purveyors. Regional, seasonal, locally-sourced products." They have two food concepts going: one is the social sales, the elevated hand food that you order at the bar or while you play. The other is corporate sales which is for private parties, business get-togethers, etc. That is a very large menu and much the same at each location.

Beverage-wise, it's about craft cocktails with fresh juices and high-end liquors and spirits. There are 8-10 cocktails on the menu, four of which are signature SPiN drinks, and four that will be unique to Seattle. None of these are drinks that take 15 minutes to make; SPiN is high volume. They're all basically twists on classics. They also offer wine and beer: heavy on local craft beers, not strictly local on wine.

Before you say, "I haven't played in years" or "I'm not good at ping pong," head to SPiN, watch a few games, talk to a few people, eat, drink, then take up a paddle. Addiction is one good shot away.

Photos by Noah Feck

1511 6th Ave
Seattle, WA 98101

Connie Adams/January 2018

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