The “eatertainment” venue, coupled with sports, is a growing trend in cities nationwide. From golf (Topgolf, Puttshack) to table tennis (Spin, Ace Eat Serve) to axe throwing (Bury the Hatchet, Urban Axes), consumers are gobbling up sports with a side of food (and bar drinks).
Taking advantage of the pickleball movement is Chicken N Pickle, with pickleball courts, event space, food, bar service and outdoor patio games, served up with rotisserie chicken (and plenty of other options as well). The venues have been hosting tournaments as well. SDM sat down with Carrie Bartlow, Director of Marketing, to learn more.
Sports Destination Management: How long has Chicken N Pickle been around?
Carrie Bartlow: We started in 2016 with one venue in Kansas City, Missouri. Since then, we have put in five other locations: Grand Prairie, Texas; Oklahoma City; Overland Park, Kansas; San Antonio, Texas; and Wichita, Kansas. We have three other facilities that will come online in late 2022 or in 2023, in Grapevine, Texas; Glendale, Arizona; and St. Charles, Missouri. So to review, we’ll have nine open by early 2023 and we hope to double that by the end of that year.
SDM: How do cities go about expressing interest in having a venue?
Bartlow: There is a contact form on the home page of our website. People can fill that out and send it to us.
SDM: Are you hearing from a lot of cities?
Bartlow: Yes, we are! We get questions all the time.
SDM: One thing that might surprise people is that you host tournaments.
Bartlow: We do – we hosted the National Can in Hand Tournament – just like it sounds, you had to play the game with your paddle in one hand and a can in the other; and we also host the NextGen Series that is run by the Association of Pickleball Professionals (APP). Then we host college tournaments; for example, in Grand Prairie, our calendar includes Texas Tech vs. Texas, TCU vs. SMU, Texas Tech vs. NC State – it doesn’t really slow down. Grand Prairie has also hosted wheelchair pickleball play. We also offer camps, newbie nights and skills clinics so that people can come out and learn the game in a fun environment or brush up on their game.
SDM: Do most people come from the local area to attend competitions?
Bartlow: We have players who will travel from far away to attend our tournaments. We have a lot of fun themed events – holidays and so on – and people just want to come out and play.
SDM: Do you have a specific demographic that events seem to attract?
Bartlow: Not really – we like to joke that our demographic is players between 6 and 86.
SDM: It sounds like Chicken N Pickle appeals to a wide swath of players.
Bartlow: I would like to think that, in terms of the growth of pickleball in general, we’re just making it more accessible to all ages and more fun for everyone. It’s really the only place I know like it.
SDM: Do venues have indoor courts, outdoor courts or a mix?
Bartlow: We have both indoor and outdoor courts. We also have a lot of fun things for people to do before or after they play. We have yard games, bars, restaurants, shuffleboard and bocce. During the winter, our Wichita and Overland Park locations have outdoor ice rinks.
SDM: Chicken N Pickle is also actively involved in charities.
Bartlow: We have 476 charity partners nationwide and we have donated more than $12,000. Community is a core value for us. We keep things local with food that is fresh (never frozen) and farm-to-table. One of our key partners is called Our Hearts Are Local. If you are getting a drink, you can pay an extra $1.50 to get a special Chicken N Pickle Cup; all the proceeds go back to charity.