Published: 19:45, 25 May 2021
| Updated: 15:13, 26 May 2021
A new sports bar where punters can play table tennis or beer pong is opening in a building which once played host to a notorious nightclub.
BALLIN' Maidstone is based in Bank Street in Maidstone, where Gallery used to be before it shut down.
Inside the new-look Maidstone venue that has been given a complete makeover
With a focus on activities, the new bar is a world away from its predecessor.
Gallery became embroiled in controversy in 2019 when 21-year-old Andre Bent was murdered outside the nightclub. Vasilios Ofogeli, 17, was found guilty of his murder last March.
The student at London South Bank University, who had been in the nightclub to see rapper MoStack in concert, died in August 2019, never knowing he was to become a father.
Following the tragedy, the nightclub had its licence temporarily suspended in September 2019.
The new bar may be located in the same place but co-owner Luke Gibb, a former head promoter at Gallery, says this is very much a new venture.
“We just want to get completely away from the whole nightclub scene and we just wanted to bring a new fun and enjoyable experience to the town,” he said. "There isn’t anywhere in Maidstone that is really doing what we are doing.
“There are some really good sports bars in Maidstone but we are doing a bit more in terms of mixing gaming with the sports, bringing it all together with DJs to help complete the party vibe, really."
It hopes to be a sports bar with a difference and is home to 22 television screens, a range of games and will play host to DJs, as well as serving food and drinks. Bookings are available for brunches during the afternoon.
Games on offer include pool, table tennis and beer pong.
“We just think it is a concept that works really well. With brunches and stuff like that, what we have found is people like to sit down and keep on drinking," said Mr Gibb.
“But with us introducing the gaming, it does slow down the drinking procedure.
"It worked really well on Saturday, to be honest, where people were up, playing the games and they took their mind off the drinking.
“They are just enjoying themselves, playing the games and watching the sport, and just getting more from the experience.”
Run by co-owners Jack Simmonds and Mr Gibb, BALLIN' Maidstone held a soft opening on Saturday and will be open from this weekend.
The pair aim to hire 25 to 30 staff members and the necessary renovation work took seven months to complete.
“If you go to Shoreditch, you have a lot of quirky places - Bounce and other places like that where you go in, play table tennis, beer pong and pool,” said Mr Simmonds.
“So, with our concept, we have a gaming side to it and, on the other side, we have got live sports. We have a five-metre projector where the DJ used to be. We have got live screens, scattered around the club elsewhere.”
All coronavirus guidelines are being followed at the new venue, with one-way systems in place and hand sanitiser available.
Mr Gibb added: "Hopefully we will attract people from further afield and from Maidstone as well. There are loads of good places, opening up in the town at the moment. Hopefully, it does generate a good foot flow throughout the town.
"Everyone has been locked away for a while so, hopefully, there is light at the end of the tunnel after all the Covid stuff because it has been horrible for everyone, hasn’t it?"
Bookings range from £10 per person to £50 per person for the sessions.
For details, click here.
It is open on Fridays from 5pm to 1am, Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 2am.