I was dying to see this place because much has been written about it, and many of our clients reference it when planning their own clubs. Is it a pickleball club? I would say “sort of”. Yes it has pickleball, but really the business model is an extensive experience-driven bar and restaurant — that has pickleball but is not primarily a pickleball club.
They currently have 8 locations, and plans on the books for many more. I spent 3 hours there on a Wednesday night, and here’s our Pickleball Business Advisor summary of the business:
- It’s immense. 12 pickleball courts, but that’s only a small percentage of a footprint that includes varied food offerings, restaurant seating areas, multiple bars, fire pits, foosball, shuffleboard, corn hole, roof decks and more. I would say it was easily over 100,000 square feet. Most courts were open air, many were covered, and a few look like they could be used in winter because they could be enclosed and heated.
- It’s really a restaurant, family entertainment and event venue that has pickleball. NOT a pickleball club with a restaurant. I met people attending a company sales meetings that had 70 folks there. Many were using courts dedicated to their event and playing in street clothes. They were having a blast. P.S. the food was reasonably priced and very good (especially the chicken!). Note: My sister said order the craft beer because the wine was mediocre.
There is a morning open-play scene that attracts more serious players, but I am quite sure pickleball revenues are only a very small part of their overall financial picture.
This location was in Grand Prairie, Texas which is technically in the Dallas area, but from a practical standpoint is not accessible for regular play by Dallas folks because of traffic and distance. I’m quite sure one of the reasons it can’t be closer is the difficulty in finding suitably priced real estate closer into the city. It is stunning to me that there weren’t more dedicated Pickleball clubs in Metro Dallas. I’m sure that will change soon.
All in all Chicken N Pickle appears to be a successful restaurant and event business with a unique twist related to pickleball. It did not appear to be a serious fitness business where regular pickleball players would play, or that would create interesting programming to grow pickleball attendance and participation. Successful business, yes….Pickleball centric business, no.
Pickleball Business Advisors is brothers Bill and John Pryor. We provide a variety of consulting services based on extensive experience in fitness business development, and research into the fast growing pickleball marketplace. To initiate a feasibility assessment for your pickleball club, or for other consulting, contact us so we can learn about your project.