Adam Breeden knows a thing or two about running a successful bar in London. As co-founder of the wildly successful All Star Lanes, Adam’s got quite a bit of experience in turning a formerly uncool sport into a raging nightlife phenomenon. And he’s done it again, teaming up with ping pong aficionado Dev Penzik to create London’s newest nightlife concept: Bounce, a ping pong cocktail bar that is, unbelievably, located in the actual Holborn Circus building where ping pong was invented.
Hg2 were lucky enough to check out Bounce a couple of weeks ago and we can verify that it is as geek-chic as they come, complete with – we’re told – some pretty famous ping pong tables. But really, where else in London (or the world, for that matter?) can you down a G&T over a rousting game of ping pong?
Adam – Bounce is such a unique concept. How did you come up with the idea?
Dov [Penzik] and I were sat in a little café in Kilburn and our conversation turned to ping pong – a sport Dov is incredibly passionate about following his stint as a junior professional ping pong player. His passion, combined with my previous experience as co-founder of All Star Lanes, led us to decide (at the end of our coffees) that we would reinvigorate the sport by bringing it back to its parlour game roots, by offering great food, great cocktails, great music and in summary a great social experience.
Are one or both of you table tennis players?
Dov is a bit of a pro and I also play, but not to his level – we both love the game and see its potential to appeal to a mass audience
Tell us about Bounce’s location. How on earth did you manage to open the bar in the same place where Ping Pong was born?!
By complete coincidence! We brought in Joe Jaques in to be a consultant on the Bounce project, as his family were the founders of the game in 1901. It was only in later email conversations, that he eventually asked where the venue was being built, when we sent over the address he couldn’t believe it – it was the exact same location that Jaques and Co used to be and where the game was founded and patented by his grandfather.
Some of the tables at Bounce are quite special. Tell us about those.
We are the proud owners of one of the tables from this year’s London games and it’s the only table open to the public for play. We also have the official World Championship table, which will stay with us until it is required at the annual event.
Your bar is an ‘homage to the Gin palace’. What inspired you to combine gin den with table tennis club?
Our bar is homage to the Gin Palace which was the predecessor of the public house and so we’ve created our drinks menu based on the heritage of the Gin Palace – making it accessible just as these establishments were way back when. As the heritage of the site and the game is important to us, we wanted to pay tribute to such heritage with our drinks menu. We worked with internationally award-winning mixologist, Joe Stokoe, to create a range of cocktails inspired by Hatton, The City of London and of course, the game.
We noticed there a shower near the toilets. Are you hoping Bounce can serve as a proper table tennis club as well as a bar?
It already does. Bounce is somewhere that is open to not only fans and ping pong enthusiasts but we’ve also combined it in a setting that makes it accessible to all.
Take us through the basic protocol of getting a table at Bounce. Is there a queue?
Advanced bookings of up to two hours on ping pong tables are reserved for members as well as groups of six and above. At any given time we have a number of tables available on arrival not requiring a booking. At peak times there may be a waiting list, but guests can comfortably relax in our bar or 95 cover restaurant until the next table becomes available
You also co-founded All Star Lanes, which has been a huge London success story. How did that experience help you when designing Bounce?
The operational systems are very similar and during my time at ASL, I realised there was a demand for people wanting more from a night out – that activity led concepts are the way forward. Bounce offers more than your average night out – you can eat, drink and play in a stunning venue with an amazing atmosphere.
What do you think – would ping pong make a great night out? Give your thoughts in the comments section below!