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Chicken N Pickle leans into the powerhouse pickleball trend

Chicken N Pickle opened in 2016—well before the massive phenomenon that swept the country post-pandemic — and is now reaching a stage of growth


Pickleball may be the leisure craze that’s sweeping the nation, but Kansas City-based Chicken N Pickle is (modestly) proud to have been around since before the sporty trend made such a racket in Americans’ lives. Founded in 2016, the 10-unit concept is an indoor/outdoor eatertainment experience that is equal parts chicken destination and playground for all ages.

“We always say we want to be the Topgolf of pickleball,” Chicken N Pickle president Kelli Alldredge, said. “We're not real fancy. We want you to come in your comfortable tennis shoes, hang out and really spend several hours with us having fun. That's our goal.”

Chicken N Pickle was founded by Dave Johnson after, during a visit to Arizona, he spotted a game of pickleball for the first time. Alldredge said that Johnson was amazed by how no matter what time of day you walked past, the pickleball courts were always full of people playing and having fun.

“He was very drawn to the community aspect of the game,” Alldredge said. That being said, his favorite restaurant is in the Cayman Islands and it’s called Chicken! Chicken! So, he had one of those visionary light bulb moments of, ‘I want to create a concept that combines both of these things.’”

Thus, Chicken N Pickle was born as a true new generation eatertainment concept. This wasn’t a pickleball court with a food court attached to it as an afterthought. In addition to multiple pickleball courts and yard games like life-sized Battleship and Jenga, all locations offer a chicken-centric menu that’s “very chef-driven” and locally-sourced, Alldredge said.

“Food is a priority,” she said. “I think people are going for the full package. They want activity, they want to be entertained, and they want a place where they can gather that's different….but people walk onto our property expecting a bar food menu, and they’re blown away by our offerings.”

Additionally, Chicken N Pickle has an interesting relationship with technology. While customers are encouraged to leave their phones behind while enjoying outdoor sports and getting in some sunshine and human interaction, technology helps to facilitate the ease of playing and eating on and off the courts. If guests open a tab at the restaurant or bar, that tab “follows you around all over the property,” Alldredge said.   

Another crucial aspect of the Chicken N Pickle brand is the brand’s community and charity-oriented operations approach. Alldredge said that each of the 10 locations (and growing) have a community impact coordinator whose job it is to make sure that Chicken N Pickle is serving through community through fundraisers, donated space, and partnerships with organizations like The Special Olympics. The Chicken N Pickle Foundation has purchased sports wheelchairs for its growing para pickleball program.

“We've really realized over the last several years that everyone can play this game,” Alldredge said. “The humble side of me would say we capitalized on [the pickleball craze], but I do think we helped launch the game of pickleball by introducing the sport to a lot of communities that may have heard of it but never played it before.”

In the future, Chicken N Pickle hopes to keep growing, with locations eleven and twelve currently under construction, and six more locations coming in the next two years. 

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