PINGPOD brings table tennis to the Upper East Side


If you’ve been around the corner of 86th and York recently, you may have noticed a new addition to the neighborhood. PINGPOD, an organization dedicated to making ping pong accessible to the public, opened a brand new location on the Upper East Side on May 7.

According to company CEO Max Kogler, PINGPOD acquired the new location in response to demand from its Upper East Side members. Kogler, himself an Upper East Sider, notes that the location was an “obvious” choice given the company’s popularity. The company has multiple locations around the city, including Astoria and the Lower East Side. While most other PINGPOD locations have multiple tables, the new site only has one. Despite this, the venue logged 700 hours of playtime in just two months.

Kogler noted that the company is considering acquiring a larger location at 95th and Lexington, expanding the company’s footprint on the Upper East Side.

The 86th Street location includes a ping-pong table, game equipment, a small seating area, and a mini-fridge stocked with drinks for purchase. To play, visitors must make an online reservation. The location has no full-time staff; an easily accessible off-site operations team ensures the space is clean and that players adhere to safety measures. PINGPOD locations are all monitored by video. The capsule is open 24/7. The result is a modern and individualized table tennis experience.

It costs between $15 and $25 to play for half an hour, depending on whether you book the room for peak or off-peak hours. For an additional fee, you can receive a lesson from one of PINGPOD’s professional coaches.

The passion of the game

PINGPOD was launched in 2020 by Kogler, David Silberman and Ernesto Ebuen. Both Kogler and Silberman have extensive experience in finance as well as a passion for the game, while Ernesto is a six-time Philippine table tennis champion. The three were inspired to start the business after noticing the lack of playing space available for recreational ping pong players. Now, PINGPOD strives to provide a fun and safe place for gamers from all walks of life.

“Ping pong is such a democratic sport,” Kogler said, “it cuts across all socioeconomic backgrounds, all races, all ages. I’ve been to tournaments where I’ve lost to girls from 11. I played against 85-year-old grandfathers. It’s the perfect sport.

PINGPOD has over 20,000 committed members, who have taken their paddles to “take the journey from ping pong to table tennis,” as Kolger put it. The term “ping pong” is familiar, while “table tennis” is used by experienced players to refer to the game.

PINGPOD also hosts a day camp, where children aged 6 to 14 can receive specialized ping pong lessons. You can sign up for morning, afternoon or full day sessions. The camp is already starting on the SIU website – and registration is still open.

Upper East Siders can look forward to future ping pong tournaments, lesson offerings and other events at the 86th Street venue. Kogler noted that the company is set to launch a dating event called “Two Peas in a Pod,” in which participants play a series of doubles, “speed dating” with other ping pong players. Sounds like potential for a match made in heaven.

PINGPOD looks forward to expanding its presence in the neighborhood. In the meantime, you can sign up to play at their UES slot on the PINGPOD website, https://pingpod.com.

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