Is there room enough in Chicago for two Ping Pong-themed nightspots? We’re about to find out. Hot on the heels of Susan Sarandon’s SPiN Ping Pong club in River North, London import AceBounce serves up its grand opening a few blocks away on June 16—and we think the Brits are onto something. Below, we’ve compiled six reasons to bounce into this ballin’ new spot.
Food by Chef Rick Gresh
We’ve been fans of the tattooed super-chef since his Green Dolphin Street days, and his presence in the kitchen gives AceBounce instant cred. Says AceBounce CEO Adam Breeden of Gresh, “He really liked the idea of creating a menu that has all the flavors and interest and surprise you get from a fine-dining experience.” Look for elevated, casual fare like duck nuggets with Thai grapefruit sauce, cilantro, and mint; fried Lake Superior smelt with lemon aioli and bagna cauda; and Sunday Gravy pizza with homemade ricotta, parmesan, and basil.
To make the most of a custom sound system designed by renowned audio consultants Talaske—and which Breeden describes as “incredibly amazing”—AceBounce is partnering with notable DJ Matt Roan, who will be a featured resident DJ and will curate a program of guest DJs through his company Crossfader King.
A Mixology Maestro
One of the city’s most respected names in nightlife, veteran barman Peter Vestinos (Sparrow, The Betty, Sepia) is the mind behind AceBounce’s beverage program. “We've been working with Peter for a while now developing a bespoke cocktail list,” Breeden notes. “He’s a genuine talent, that guy.” One libation we can’t wait to try: Hits from the Pong, a mix of mescal, cinnamon liqueur, horchata, habanero, and lime.
The action at AceBounce’s 17 Ping Pong tables (including one that will be used in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games this summer) won’t just be for hardcore competitors. “Games gurus”—almost all of whom are Second City alumni—will be on hand to interact with guests and keep things lively. “There’s so many games you can actually play around a Ping Pong table that aren't necessarily just for sport, which are actually a lot more fun,” says Breeden. “[The Games Gurus] can stand up in front of a group and make them laugh, and obviously organize them. Hopefully it will be a lot of fun on top of just playing Ping Pong. We’re pulling out all the stops.”
Location, Location, Location
In a prime location just south of the river, the 14,500-square-foot space—which was originally planned to be the grand ballroom of the now-defunct Shangri-La Hotel project—is easily accessible for both Loop corporate types and revelers drawn to the hopping River North dining and nightlife scene. Says Breeden, “We like that we're in the middle of where the after-work [destinations] would be, and also very accessible for everybody else.”
It’s Not Just Ping Pong
“What we're about is the whole hospitality experience,” says Breeden. “We’re building a venue that, if you take all the table tennis tables out, is it still a venue that would completely rock it?”