Ever played ping pong while drinking a pint?
Well, now you can!
SERVE opened its doors in August in the underground space at 55a Temple Row, converting it into a ping pong bar and restaurant for a unique experience (the first of it’s kind outside of London), and I was lucky enough to be invited to the launch night.
The concept of SERVE is to offer a hip, nightclub culture with an entertaining activity and is one of the latest alternative venues to arrive in Birmingham. It’s a rather fun idea – certainly not something I had heard of before – and I was keen to find out more about it.
SERVE is the brainchild of business partners James Day and David Smith, who first met in New York and began to develop the idea for a venue which combined four key elements – great food, fantastic cocktails, outstanding service, and most importantly, fun! They had a vision to create a new offering that could provide a relaxed, family friendly environment by day and a hip, nightclub culture by night.
David Smith, Managing Partner, explains: “Ping pong social venues have taken off in the states with a new generation of players enjoying the social side of ping pong in cool bars and clubs.”
Table tennis is growing in popularity in the UK too, with initiatives such as Ping! seeing an increase in the number of table tennis tables and playing in public places.
David continued: “SERVE is the first venue of its kind outside of London and James and I spent months researching our market and the top cities for our flagship launch. With its vibrant culture and thriving social scene, Birmingham was always one of our top choices. There is huge investment taking place across the city and the Birmingham food and drink scene is expanding at an amazing rate. Over the last 12 months alone more than 15 new bars and restaurants have opened in the city including some very well-known names. Our aim is to quickly establish SERVE as the iconic, go to venue in Birmingham which offers something cool, contemporary and fun!
It has an impressive 17 ping pong tables (15 in the main area and two in an exclusive room reserved for private parties and corporate events), with prices ranging from £16 – £42 for a 30 minute SERVE game experience. There is a large bar serving beers, wines and cocktails (and flavoured cider on tap, which I was particularly pleased about), a DJ, and the menu offers a selection of burgers, flatbreads, skewers and ‘Nibbles,’ which include Hummus Savoury Macarons, Chicken Wings and salads. I tried the Hummus Macarons – I’m a huge sweet macaron fan but had never eaten a savoury version before – and it was lovely!
The venue is open seven days a week from 11am – Midnight Sunday to Thursday, and from 11am – 2am Friday and Saturday. During the day there is more of a family friendly atmosphere and after 7pm it transforms into more of a nightclub vibe with a strictly over 18’s policy (which was the experience I had), where guests are invited to play ping pong, drink and dance the night away. Thankfully, there isn’t a dress code as I can’t imagine that ping pong would be an easy task in a pair of heels!
The launch night itself was a great experience – the atmosphere was buzzing with several hundred people and The Bloke and I had a brilliant time as we and both amateur and professional people excitedly played ping pong, sampled tasters from the menu and enjoyed the music from the DJ. We were entertained by Brazilian and Street dancers too – and I had a great chat with some of the dancers who looked incredible in their costumes.
What I particularly liked about SERVE is that it is something completely different and extremely inclusive – it’s somewhere that I can imagine going to on a date night, or with friends or family. It’s has something that can appeal to most and is suitable for both small and large groups. If you’re looking for something different then SERVE is definitely worth a visit!
For more information and to book a table, check out SERVE on their website here http://www.serve-play.com
Disclaimer: I was invited to the launch event free of charge, but was under no obligation to give a positive review in return.