A Look At the Cross Between the Food & Pickleball Industry
The pickleball industry is an ever-growing landscape that is taking the hospitality industry by storm. Pickleball clubs were starting to grow in popularity on their own. However, the emergence of pickleball food and beverage establishments is also beginning to boom. Before you know it, the combination of both business models will be the norm.
If you ever ask yourself the question, “Are pickleball clubs profitable,” know that they certainly have potential. But once you introduce food and drink menus, that’s when you can really maximize revenue. But how did it get to that point?
In this article, we're going to outline the history of the pickleball industry. When did the concept of the sport originate? When did restaurant leaders combine outdoor and indoor pickleball clubs with eateries? What does a pickleball restaurant look like? We'll answer all these questions, as well as predict where the industry will be in the decade to come.
The Beginning of the Pickleball Industry
The pickleball industry started in 1965. Two men by the names of Joel Pritchard and Bill Bell were at Pritchard's Washington home. On a Saturday afternoon, the two families had little to do, leading the men to the badminton courts. Unable to find all the necessary equipment, they made do with a plastic ball and ping pong paddles.
With a net that stood just a few feet high, they continued to play each weekend. As time went on, they created rules and regulations for the sport. It wasn’t until 1972 that pickleball would be recognized as an official sport, though. During this year, a corporation was formed to establish legal protection over the concept.
By 1990, pickleball was existent within all fifty states. It would not be until 1999 when the first pickleball website would emerge, offering everything from rules to equipment.
It was roughly fifteen years later when pickleball business ideas began intersecting with the restaurant space. It's hard to pinpoint when the first pickleball bar or restaurant opened their doors. However, restaurants like The Bumpy Pickle and Chicken N Pickle are fairly new to the game (no pun intended).
What Does the Cross Between Pickleball and Restaurants Look Like?
The introduction of food and beverage services within the pickleball industry is a fairly new concept. However, they share a striking resemblance to typical sports bars that we already know and love. In fact, the primary difference between a pickleball business and regular eateries is the courts.
Even if a pickleball bar and restaurant leans toward a pickleball country club business model, the heart of operations will be in the restaurant. Therefore, all business leaders within this sub-sector of the restaurant space should invest in pickleball club management software. In doing so, they can empower their brand with things like online ordering, restaurant reservations, a customer rewards program, and so much more.
Our 10-Year Pickleball Industry Predictions
The pickleball restaurant business model is beginning to pop up all over the United States. While some people enjoy the sport to pass some time after their meal, others prefer playing on a professional level. Luckily, even something as casual as a pickleball bar franchise can offer the best of both worlds.
We anticipate that in the next ten years or so, more bars and restaurants will have pickleball courts on their property. In fact, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see eateries that also offer customers pickleball memberships.
But why will it take so long for this type of restaurant business to become mainstream? Well for starters, you need to consider how long it will take for the benefits of offering pickleball at eateries to surface. As of January 2024, the concept is still new enough not to have much consumer data supporting it. But as time moves along, we’ll begin to see how they compare to traditional sports bars.
It’s also important to note that not all bars and restaurants have the space inside or land outside to set up pickleball courts. Right now, many restaurateurs are beginning to decide whether adding a pickleball club will be worthwhile.
So let’s say a business owner decides today that this is the route they’d like to go. They can’t open one immediately. Instead, they would have to take the time to find a location, invest in the property, and establish operations in a new brick and mortar restaurant. As you can probably imagine, launching such a business will take time, money, determination, and passion.
It’ll likely be in the next few years that entrepreneurs in the restaurant industry decide if they’d like to enter the pickleball sector. Then, years four through seven will likely be when such businesses are built and opened to the public. And by the time ten years from now rolls around, it’ll likely be a competitive landscape.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Pickleball Industry
The pickleball industry is evolving at a very rapid pace on its own. Then you have elements of the food and beverage ecosystem thrown into the mix, and you have a whole new hospitality sector. As you would with any other emerging industry, you must understand it inside and out to be successful. So, without further ado, check out the following FAQ section for more insight.
Is the Pickleball Industry Growing?
Yes, pickleball is growing exponentially and has been for quite some time. In the last few years, millions of people have begun playing the sport. As a result, it has been entering other markets, like the restaurant industry. What was once a trendy sport is slowly but surely becoming very mainstream.
Is Pickleball the Fastest Growing Sport In 2024?
Yes, pickleball industry experts anticipate the sport will keep growing in popularity in 2024. From 2019 to 2022, there were an additional 3.5 million players in the pickleball industry. Meanwhile, that was during the pandemic when no one was partaking in sports for several months. Then, the growth rate picked up even faster in 2023 and is expected to keep rising from here.
What Kinds of Consumers Does the Pickleball Industry Target?
The pickleball industry comprises a customer profile that includes the following people:
- Men and women in the United States.
- Those who are 18 to 55+ years of age.
- Anyone with an interest in tennis.
- Anyone with an interest in ping pong.
Is the Pickleball Industry a Profitable Landscape?
Yes, the pickleball industry can be a very profitable landscape. For one, the sport has been growing in popularity over the last several years. But more importantly, the pickleball industry is beginning to merge with the restaurant space more than ever. Due to the profitability of food and drink sales, this has the potential to be a super lucrative mashup.
Why Are Restaurants Entering the Pickleball Industry?
Restaurants are constantly entering the pickleball industry since food and drinks are lucrative revenue sources. The way it works is that traditional sports bars and casual dining establishments have pickleball courts on their premises. Then, customers have the option to rent equipment. It's a unique business model that does a good job at executing product differentiation. The best part? Restaurants that offer pickleball may have the space to do so, while others don't. Therefore, there's less competition.
The Pickleball Industry: A New and Exciting Sector
As the pickleball industry continues to evolve, we will see more trends and innovations than ever before. After all, it is a beloved sport with an increasing number of fanatics. We anticipate the rise of bars and restaurants to optimize their property space with courts. Or, if that’s not possible, it wouldn’t be a shock to see new locations popping up that accommodate such offerings. But like anything else, only time will tell how this emerging sector will unfold!