One of the most fun and unique venues in town is the Riink roller skating place out in Shan Kang Li. Opened four years ago by Ting Ting (also of Roxie) and Jordin, the roller rink-plus-cocktail bar-plus-American gastro eatery offers up fun, sunny neon retro-vibes, a great food and drinks menu, and the opportunity for jovial, character building light embarrassment on the skating rink.
Riink: It's just a wheely good time!
Riink is celebrating four years in the books for the rest of this month with a lot of great promotions which you should really check out. More on those below. Earlier this week, SmartShanghai crashed a kid's birthday party to talk to Ting Ting and Jordin about roller dreams becoming reality, lockdown woes, and all the new promotions and deals they've got going for their four-year anniversary.
SmSh: Looks like a good birthday party. But I bet you guys are doing a lot of going away parties these days though...
Ting Ting: Yeah, many more goodbye parties than ever before. You know, it used to be like some people coming in and some people leaving. But now it's like... well, yeah. I don't know. It's all quite sudden, it feels like. For me. myself, like a lot of people I know, either they are telling you that they are leaving or they've already left, right.
SmSh: How was lockdown for Riink?
Ting Ting: March 14, we closed. That was White Valentine's Day. We had an event for that day planned so we had all the posters up. Coming back two months later and the posters are still up but everything has faded in the sun...
SmSh: But you're back open now and everything's okay?
Ting Ting: I guess this is back to normal. Yeah, I'll pretend like it's back to normal...
SmSh: Yeah, it definitely feels off...
Ting Ting: I guess. So. Yeah. You know, not to sound too negative...
SmSh: Well. Let's talk about the four-year anniversary for Riink. Running the roller rink for four years, have you noticed people getting better? Are you making a positive impact on the skill level out there?
Ting Ting: With return customers? Yeah, everyone gets better if you keep practicing. But our bigger crowd doesn't do it all that often, if they have ever. It's still new. But that's also why we wanted to have this place. It's too dangerous out there in one of the biggest cities to go skating.
SmSh: What was the inspiration behind opening?
Ting Ting: Umm... my own imagination?
SmSh: [Laughs.] What's your own background in roller skating? When did you learn how to skate?
Ting Ting: When I was like 9 at my parents' restaurant.
SmSh: Really? Where did you grow up?
Ting Ting: I wasn't allowed to play by myself often. My parents wanted to keep an eye on me while they worked. I was born and raised in Holland, right on the border with Germany.
My parents used to run a Chinese restaurant. So, growing up in the environment — that is like basically F&B, right? You're always either helping or looking for something to do while your parents worked. But I wasn't really allowed to go outside because my parents couldn't look after me. So, you can always like play by yourself. So, that was me, rollerskating in the restaurant.
SmSh: If you've been skating since you've were 9, you must be pretty good. Can you do tricks? Can you spin around?
Ting Ting: Sure, a couple. I'm okay for the amount of time I've been skating. Yeah, no, I'm not a professional skater...
SmSh: What's your favorite trick?
Ting Ting: Backwards skating — but it's not allowed... we don't want people to get hurt.
SmSh: Yeah I've prepared a question about that: "Seeing people wipe out must be a real workplace highlight for you. Is it still as enjoyable after four years to see people bite it on roller skates?"
Ting Ting: [Laughs.] I can't describe the feeling. Honestly, it's like a little bit of anxiety. But you know, we've got lots of protection so no one really gets hurt. It's not a big place either so people aren't going very fast.
SmSh: Thats true. Y'know, I've always been a fan of the stuffed animal things beginner skaters wear on their butts here. It's a good look.
Ting Ting: Love it. Yeah, I mean, it makes it a little bit more innocent. And I mean that protection being like stuffed toys, because people didn't want to wear them in the beginning because they're like, I'm too cool. Whatever, that's the whole point.
SmSh: Another prepared question: "Who is the worst skater you've ever seen in the past four years?"
Ting Ting: Oh, my God.
SmSh: Is there anyone that really stands out as being talented-ly bad? As in, you're looking at them thinking, ‘wow, this person is terrible?'
Ting Ting: Must be someone...
SmSh: I'll tell you about the worst person I ever saw skating here: Rob Jameson from Homeslice. He's atrocious. Just waaaaaaay too much confidence. Just that level of confidence where you knew it was only going to end one way. He ended up going like 90 miles an hour into that pole over there. It was glorious. There's a real element of divine justice to roller skating...
Ting Ting: No one specifically sticks out but. Drunk people. Really drunk people. Yesterday, we had a guy come in and he was like really insistent that he try out the skating. But yeah, he didn't even make it to the rink. Maybe for some people it's better to just have a seat at the bar...
SmSh: Drunk. Really drunk people. Yeah. How are you liking Shang Kang Li? Seems like the complex had a bit of a slow start but it's quite popular now?
Ting Ting: Yeah, we've got Roxie nearby so we've been here over 8 years. And we also live just two blocks away. I love this area. And things seem to be picking up. Lots of things have moved in much more the last few years.
SmSh: How's Roxie doing?
Ting Ting: It's doing well. We're open. Seems like that area is cleaned up a bit more now though. But it's a busy corner. And it's just drinks. These are the times people drink. Are you guys open [Specters]?
SmSh: No. I think we're on some kind of list. And not a good list...
Ting Ting: Yes. It's just like, getting lucky or not, you know? Yeah. I mean, this thing is to say, yes, we try to follow all the rules. We're cleaning everything with Clorox all the time, trying to follow all the rules... It's like dooms day preparation every day! But they still walk in and it's like, well there are only 30 people here... well. It's just being more conscious for a while.
SmSh: Yeah, I think we're classified as an "entertainment" venue and therefor not allowed to open. I keep trying to tell them no one is being entertained when they go, though. It's not entertaining in the least! There's like ZERO entertainment value...
Anyways, let's talk about happier things. Looking back on four years of Riink what are your favorite memories?
Ting Ting: We've had a lot of amazing parties. I think, for me, I'm quite practical. You know, for me, it was like imagining it and building it. Seeing how people enjoy the place. Yeah. And being very surprised how people can be quite creative with very minimum stuff, you know? Yeah. That is, that is like, the best memories in general, just to see how people enjoy your place that you have built. It's definitely really unique, right?
SmSh: Riink is definitely unique in Shanghai. I really like the design of this place. Like they neon retro-y thing. Coming from a certain age I've always liked that style.
The only other roller skating rinks I know of in Shanghai are those ones out in the suburbs with like... middle-aged dudes chain smoking cigarettes and rolling around in circles. Remember those ones? Are they even still around? Beer is like negative 5 RMB and you're supposed to drink a thousand of them...
Ting Ting: We like that place, you know. That's like... I would go too. But so many liabilities. I don't want to do that! Yeah, we wanted to do our own thing. But yeah, we definitely went there before we actually thought of doing this right.
SmSh: It was like roller skating around in a dude's lung.
Ting Ting: That place could give you a heart attack. People would just basically jump over you when you fall. They don't give a fuck. And they go with the speed at it's so crazy. But those are like for really, really good skaters...
SmSh: Tons of personality for sure. So, tell me about Riink these days? What are the areas of the operation that you're working on and what new stuff can we tell the people about?
Ting Ting: For Riiink, we always wanted to be more than just the skating, so it's like 1/3 skating and 1/3 food and 1/3 drinks. So, we've put a lot of effort into the food and drink part — that's the difficult part, just getting everything balanced right. We've expanded the food menu, do all day dining, and we're also doing delivery now, too.
SmSh: Oh, you're doing delivery, eh? Right on. So, tell me about the menu.
Ting Ting: Yes, we're available on all the platforms now — Sherpas, Eleme... Our old menu was like snacks and things, But this one is like easygoing, all day meals kind of thing. It's done by Austin because he was with us since the beginning. He loved the place, the venue, and even though he was really busy, he took the job. So it's American born but coming from his other influences as well with some of the flavors and ingredients — Japanese. A few other things... But there's maybe 80% new stuff available...
SmSh: What are some of the things people should seek out? Any recommendations?
Ting Ting: Well, I guess the burgers is the thing, of course. The cheeseburger is really good. The chicken burger is really unique — our version of it with the special sauce. We've also got a great hot dog... but yeah as, it's more created for easygoing all day and more to the all day kind of like. Still grab-able but works as a meal.
I think it's our best menu. And it works because it's not too crazy and it's affordable. Y'know we get a lot of teenage kids who just want to spend like 100rmb and it works...
SmSh: What about the drinks?
Ting Ting: We've got our summer cocktails and our signature cocktails. We want to get them out fast so we use a lot of premixed infusions. We've also added a big section of Mocktails. We have a big crowd of younger customers that aren't necessarily big drinkers, so those are pretty popular too.
SmSh: That's probably good. Because people are on wheels, right?
Ting Ting: Exactly.
SmSh: So you guys have some ongoing deals and promotions for your fourth year anniversary?
Ting Ting: Yeah, times being what they are, we couldn't have a big event, so we're just doing a few things to get people to come in and visit.
One thing is that people who order delivery get a free voucher for some skates with their order. So if you try us out on delivery, you get a free skating session.
SmSh: Right on.
Ting Ting: Another thing we're doing is for people that missed their birthdays during lockdown. So you know the lockdown months — April, May, June — if you had your birthday during one of those prison months, you can get a pair of free skates.
It's like... well, we missed our birthday, you missed your birthday, here's some free skates.
SmSh: That's a good idea. You've also got these package deals too.
Jordin: Yeah we have lots of new package deals for lots of different things, like this one is 188rmb for a snack a drink and some skates, and you can upgrade that to a couple package for 388rmb.
[Ed's note: Available on SmartTicket.]
And so people can come in and mix and match the different stuff they want — and there's no time limit of when you can do things..
So it's just more fun to come in and buy a ticket, like if you're on a date and you can take your time and see what kinds of things you want to try.
SmSh: Jordin, what are your favorite memories of making Riink and spending four years on the project?
Ting Ting: It used to be just me behind the bar, her behind the shoe rack, and then just one dude in the kitchen...
Jordin: Well, it was just like she was saying before... It was one thing to imagine it and then when we did it... Well, when you see it, it's like wow! One thing I really like it that we bring out a different side in customers. Like they come in and think, ‘how can this exist!' And they just act differently here than they would at another place...
SmSh: You're bringing out everyone's inner child.
Jordin: Just seeing peoples' surprise that something like this exists in Shanghai is great.