Cheers erupt from the back table. A thirty-something, slightly sweaty in dark jeans and collared shirt, pumps his fist, Tiger-style, celebrating a zinger that caught the corner and kept on going. High-fives are given, drinks are spilled -- but in the rush of victory, no one cares, just as no one minds the small white balls flying across the room like popcorn. What people do notice is how much fun they're having, all while playing a game that, until recently, was only snickered at in the Olympics ("You call that a sport?") or used by college students as an excuse to drink.
Ping-pong has arrived. And if what's happening at Ace, the latest restaurant by the team behind Vesta Dipping Grill and Steuben's, is any indication, the game has the power to transform a night on the town.
Not that owners Josh and Jen Wolkon can take credit for making the squat paddles cool. That honor goes to Susan Sarandon, who brought the game back from the verge of extinction with Spin, a popular ping-pong club in New York City. But the Wolkons lobbed the craze into Denver's prime time, repurposing a cavernous, 9,000-square-foot garage next to Steuben's into a hangout extraordinaire. Even without the eleven ping-pong tables (including some on the patio), the space would feel like a party: lights low, music pumping, fun touches like shipping containers, airplane parts and a curvy bar with scorpion bowls, alcoholic shaved ices and fab barman Randy Layman.
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Waits for a ping-pong table approach two hours on weekends; fortunately, there's plenty to do in the interim. Eat, for example. Hungry to know more? Read the complete review of Ace in Denver.