You hear it all the time: "Do what you love."
Dig design? Go ahead and start an advertising firm. Like clothes? May as well dive into the fashion industry. Love burgers and ping-pong? Hell, open a restaurant, throw some tables in there for both eating and playing, and get paid to hang out in the ultimate bro-lounge. And that's exactly what Pete Rivas is doing.
A former manager of Taco Boy, Rivas is teaming up with longtime business partner Pete Smith (occasionally referred to as "Re-Pete") to open HōM Restaurant, Charleston's first burger boutique/pong lounge combo.
"I was watching Entourage and one of the characters got in a ping-pong battle with Dave Coulier at a ping-pong bar in New York called Spin. I grew up playing ping-pong. I'm always playing ping-pong. I knew I had to bring this to Charleston," Rivas says.
While Spin is known for its upscale dining, Rivas opted for something more casual with a menu of gourmet burgers. The restaurant, located at 563 King St. (the previous one-time home of the Trusted Palate), plans to offer burgers ranging from $6-$12, with patty ingredients ranging from traditional beef to lamb. Vegetarians get more than just a grilled Morningstar patty, as veggie options run from black bean to General Tso's tofu. The two Petes want to keep things as local as possible, offering breads from Ashley Bakery and meats from Meathouse.
Local friends get a wink on the menu, too, with items like the Ren and Stumpy (a drink named after Lowcountry architecture firm Stumphouse) and the Black and BlueIon burger, a nod to HōM's marketing partners.
As far as the pong is concerned, Rivas wants to go all the way, and he's outfitting the spot with a couple of Killerspin Revolution tables. These things weigh over 400 pounds and come with an anti-glare coating as well as a price tag that far exceeds the weight.
Rivas says players are free to BYOP (bring your own paddle), but paddles and balls will be supplied. Games will be free from 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; after that it's $5 for half an hour of playtime to ensure that everyone gets a chance to play.
Expect to see tournaments, including "Restaurant Wars," which pits F&B crews against each other to see which downtown staff has the best pong skills.
The HōM bar plans to offer a serious selection of alcohol, including an array of over 25 craft beers and a few house infused liquors.
"I think people are going to get really into it after they've had a few beers," Rivas says. "Personally, I want to get up and do something after I've had a couple of drinks. While pool is fun, I think pong is more energetic and definitely more of a spectator sport."
Of course, with more drinks comes less inhibition, and Rivas voices a little concern for his new pong tables. "I'm hoping people don't wreck anything. There are actually a few professional ping-pong players in Charleston who take it pretty seriously, so I'm thinking they'll police the drunken guys. But you know, hopefully people will have fun but still respect the place."
When asked if he's planning on implementing beer pong, Rivas just laughs, "No."
Not even a maybe?
HōM expects to be open for business by Wed. July 20. Visit homcharleston.com for more information.