If you have recently passed by the corner of 86th and York, you may have noticed a new addition to the neighborhood. PINGPOD, an organization dedicated to making ping-pong accessible to the public, opened up a brand-new location on the Upper East Side on May 7th.
According to Max Kogler, the company’s CEO, 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 several locations around the city, including in Astoria and the Lower East Side. While most of PINGPOD’s other locations have multiple tables, the new site just has one. Despite this, the location has logged 700 hours of playing time in just two months.
Kogler noted that the company is looking into acquiring a larger location on 95th and Lexington, expanding the company’s Upper East Side footprint.
The 86th Street location features a ping-pong table, playing equipment, a small lounge area and a minifridge stocked with drinks for purchase. To play, visitors must make an online reservation. The location does not have full time staff; an easily accessible off-site operations team ensures that the space is clean and players follow safety measures. PINGPOD’s locations are all monitored by video. The pod is open 24/7. The result is an individualized, modern ping-pong experience.
It costs between $7.50 and $25 to play for a half hour, depending on whether you reserve the room for peak or off-peak hours. For an extra fee, you can receive a lesson from one of PINGPOD’s professional coaches.
Passion for the Game
PINGPOD was launched in 2020 by Kogler, David Silberman, and Ernesto Ebuen. Kogler and Silberman both have extensive experience working in finance as well as a passion for the game, while Ernesto is a six-time Philippines ping-pong champion. The three were inspired to start the company after noticing the lack of playing space available for recreational ping-pong players. Now, PINGPOD strives to provide a fun and safe venue for players of all backgrounds.
“Ping-pong is such a democratic sport,” Kogler said, “it transcends all socioeconomic backgrounds, all races, all ages. I’ve been to tournaments where I’ve lost against 11-year-old-girls. I’ve played against 85-year-old grandfathers. It’s the perfect sport.”
PINGPOD has more than 20,000 committed members, who have taken up their paddles to “make the journey from playing ping-pong to table tennis,” as Kolger said. The term “ping-pong” is colloquial, while “table tennis” is used by experienced players to refer to the game.
PINGPOD also hosts a day camp, where kids ages 6-14 may receive specialized ping-pong instruction. You can sign up for morning, afternoon, or all-day sessions. The camp is already kicking off at the UES location — and registration is still open.
Upper East Siders can look forward to future ping-pong tournaments, class offerings, and other events on the 86th Street location. Kogler noted that the company is about to launch a dating event called “Two peas in a pod,” wherein participants play a series of doubles rounds, effectively “speed dating” other ping-pong players. Sounds like potential for a match made in heaven.
PINGPOD eagerly anticipates expanding their presence in the neighborhood. Meantime, you can sign up to play at their UES location on PINGPOD’s website, https://pingpod.com.
“Ping Pong is such a democratic sport. It transcends all socioeconomic backgrounds, all races, all ages. I’ve been to tournaments where I’ve lost against 11-year-old-girls. I’ve played against 85-year-old grandfathers.” Max Kogler, CEO of PINGPOD