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Pong is Coming to Empty Grand Street Storefront

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The guys behind the LES Wedding Chapel are heading south of Delancey. Beginning Friday, they’ll be operating a ping pong parlor out of a vacant storefront on Grand Street, just east of Essex. Ben and Hall Smyth operate “Grand Opening,” an offshoot of their design firm, in which a different “business” pops up every few months. Since the summer, they’ve been running a popular Vegas-style wedding Chapel – capturing the imagination of romantics and garnering lots of media attention (see our video with Margie and her dog, about to get married at Grand Opening).

Their very first project, and one of the most popular, was a ping pong parlor. Now Grand Opening is reprising the concept, in what they call “Pong’s first franchise location.” The space they’re using, formerly Wolner’s Shoes, is owned by the Seward Park Co-op. Michael Tumminia, Seward Park Housing Corp. president, told us the board reached out to Grand Opening as a way to create some new excitement and energy on Grand Street. While they work to find paying tenants for this space and several other vacant stores, Tumminia said the Co-op wants to make the best of a difficult situation.

According to Grand Opening’s Vimeo page,” visitors can play pick-up games, or become members and compete for a
chance to win the L.E.S. Cup, a season-ending tournament that will reveal the most talented table tennis players in the Lower East Side.”  There will even be a “members only clubhouse” downstairs. It appears these guys having been thinking about ping pong day and night:


Pong is Back! 397 Grand Street, NYC from grandopening on Vimeo.

Grand Opening is raising money for the “design, construction, insurance and utilities associated with getting
this community gathering spot up and running.”  If you’d like to make a contribution, visit Kickstarter.com (before October 20). The Kickstarter page is also where you can find out information about “reserving” the table.

The idea is a different spin on a trend that’s been sweeping the city. As the New York Times reported the other day, landlords have been seeking out artists to enliven empty commercial spaces. “The “price of entry is not deep pockets, but vivid imaginations and splashy exhibits,” the article said.

If you’re interested in leasing any of the Seward Park Co-op’s retail spaces, visit Charles Greenthal’s web site.

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  1. i wish it could stay for more than 3 months. We went out tonight to sign up, and no one was there…..what are the hours?

  2. Hi Roxana, we’ve sent an email asking the Grand Opening guys to confirm their hours…We’ll let you know as soon as we hear back from them…It did look like they were open and playing this evening, though.

  3. Hi guys. We’ve heard from Ben Smyth at Grand Opening Public Projects. He says the hours are 5p – 10p right now and they may extend them in November. Get your wrists ready!

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