Zach: The first SPiN opened in New York a couple years back. How did it make its way to Milwaukee of all places?
Eric: The simple answer is that Scott Mayer, the co-owner of SPiN Milwaukee, was a fan of SPiN New York and was interested in Milwaukee becoming the first franchise. He presented them with a good proposal and that was that.
Zach: You guys have managed to do something that is seemingly impossible.
Eric: [Laughs] Really?
Zach: Yeah, you’ve created a place that is not only appealing to a younger crowd, like kids and teenagers, but at night it becomes almost like a club for adults. Can you explain a bit about how you’ve managed to do that?
Eric: Ping-pong is a universal sport. It’s appealing to a wide range of people, from high school teenagers to 20-something-year-old clubbers to working professionals. And the reason it’s attractive as a nightlife destination is that instead of that club experience where guys are just standing around looking tough and staring at girls, at SPiN there’s something to do and watch here that’s unique and cool.
Zach: Why did you choose to be in the Third Ward instead of somewhere else in the city?
Eric: I personally was interested in the Third Ward because it’s always growing and showing a lot of potential. We also wanted to take advantage of the culture down here. The New York club is very hot with celebrities there all the time, so we wanted to keep with that formula. And since we wanted to be near the downtown area, this was one of the few spaces big enough for us. We need a lot of space for a lot of tables and the private dining rooms. So we found this old warehouse, which was perfect.
Zach: Going back to the ping-pong, was there really a market here for this? Are there experienced players living in Milwaukee?
Eric: There are definitely some dedicated players that live in the area. There’s a couple of table tennis clubs near Milwaukee, so when we started this project out, I visited with them. I thought to myself, “This is going to be great. We’re going to have all these players here all the time.” But the thing is, we’re all about having fun, first and foremost. We have a great venue for the serious ping pong player, but overall we like to keep it pretty casual. Some days you’ll see people stretching, playing on the center court, but at the same time you’ll see people goofing around and just having a good time. There’s definitely a mixture. We also have a weekly tournament on Friday nights called the “Dirty Dozen” with a 100 dollar cash prize that you play to get in. A lot of players come up from Madison and Chicago to play in the tournament and they take it very seriously.
Zach: What was the public’s reaction when you guys first opened here? Were there people who thought a ping-pong place wouldn’t work?
Eric: Absolutely. The concept is obviously very strange to some people. When SPiN came to Milwaukee there were a lot of doubters, but I think we’ve proven them wrong. It’s been very encouraging to hear people come in a year and a half later saying, “I really didn’t think you guys would be able to do this, but wow, you’ve really pulled it off.” We’ve been fortunate enough to have created a great place that people like to come to and have a good time