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Mathis Report
Jax Daily Record Thursday, Sep. 13, 201805:20 AM EST

The Mathis Report: Pingpong restaurant about a month away

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Smash will offer food, drinks and games at Baymeadows Junction.

Here’s a deal bouncing your way: Buy two weekday lunch entrees and get 30 minutes free of pingpong (subject to table availability) to work it off.

That’s one of the features coming to Southside as the Smash pingpong restaurant and bar prepares to open in about a month in Baymeadows Junction at 8206 Philips Highway.

“This is a nice way to spend your time,” said Smash General Manager Devlin Cathey, who also is executive chef.

Smash’s tagline is “Play. Eat. Drink. Repeat.”

“Our goal is to provide a unique, locally owned and operated, space to hang out, relax, and play with friends and family,” says a statement by Smash.

The 13,000-square-foot space is designed with 12 pingpong tables, and space for more if needed, to attract social, competitive and children’s leagues; team-building events; corporate meetings; and those looking for a place for lunch, dinner or drinks.

Smash is coming to Baymeadows Junction at 8206 Philips Highway.

There are areas for private groups or semiprivate gatherings; a separate area that has a bar and can provide stadium seating for events or to watch competitive or exhibition play; and the main event – pingpong tables.

Smash suggests groups consider bringing Jean-Marie Kanani, its executive coach and pingpong pro, to the events to teach groups the rules.

Kanani can be booked for private or group coaching.

There will be 200 to 250 seats.

There is soft seating planned throughout, with lounge seating for customers who might want to drink coffee or cocktails. Cathey said there will be 25 TVs.

The interior is being built out with design features such as reclaimed wood, barn doors, polished cement flooring, galvanized piping foot rails, hand-painted ceilings, exposed brickwork, drop-down design wood and felt ceilings.

Cathey declined to provide an investment cost in the project.

Smash will open 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-1 a.m. Friday and Saturday; and 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday, offering Sunday brunch.

Table rentals start at $8 for a half-hour and are higher at nights and on weekends.

Cathey expects to employ 65 full- and part-time employees.

While food can be consumed throughout the venue, there will be a designated 48-seat dining area for those wanting to eat rather than play.

Cathey describes the menu as American bistro. The online menu at smashjax.com shows a list of appetizers, sandwiches, flatbreads, salads, burgers, grilled steaks, chicken and salmon, sides and a kids’ menu.

“This is a nice way to spend your time,” said Smash General Manager Devlin Cathey, who also is executive chef.

Sandwich prices range from $7-$12; salads, $6-$11; flatbreads, $8-$9; burgers, $12- $14; and grill items, $16-$24.

There are two bars – the main bar and the one in the stadium area. A drink menu shows $10 “smash” cocktails along with favorites, classics, wines, champagnes and beer.

Cathey said there will be 12 beers on tap and six will be local.

Cathey said Smash is focusing on local suppliers as much as possible for food, spirits, beer, beverages, labor, interior items and other necessities.

“We want it to be a part of Jacksonville,” he said.

Along with Cathey, leaders include bar manager Jake Freedlund; front-of-house manager Scott Wiest; executive sous chef John Daley; and sous chef Robert Lawrence.

Teamwork is evident with the large SMASH sign assembled with 7,200 pingpong balls.

The focus on table tennis means Jacksonville residents will learn more about the game.

“It’s a great social game, and it’s quite physical,” Cathey said.

Cathey is the former executive chef of the Country Club of Salisbury in North Carolina.

Before that, his experience included serving as an executive chef in his native South Africa, working in England (his mother was British) and serving as executive chef on super yachts traveling the East Coast, Bahamas and Virgin Islands.

His move to the U.S.came when he reconnected with his high-school sweetheart, who had moved to Fort Lauderdale. They married in 2014 and have two children.

Baymeadows Junction is a 150,665-square-foot community retail center at Philips Highway and Baymeadows Road.


 

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