Populous-Chicken N Pickle nod to pickleball


Populous and Chicken N Pickle develop architectural prototype Image: Chicken N Pickle & Populous

Chicken N Pickle, the unique, indoor/outdoor entertainment complex combining a casual, chef-driven restaurant and sports bar with pickleball courts and a variety of yard games, has developed a new brand style, design and architectural prototype to help propel it from nine locations to more than 20 in the next two years.

‘Populous’ stated that created by the global design firm Populous – the team behind iconic sports stadiums like the 44,970-capacity Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Maryland, and the 54,251-capacity Yankee Stadium in New York City, New York, arenas like the 17,459-capacity Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, Washington, and experiences like the Olympics, Super Bowl and MLB at Field of Dreams (a regular season Major League Baseball game played on August 12th, 2021, near Field of Dreams in Dyersville, Iowa, US, a site popularized by the 1989 baseball film ‘Field of Dreams’) – the new brand and design pay homage to the “farmstead” roots of Chicken N Pickle and bring people together around America’s fastest growing sport.

Kansas City (US)-based Populous is a global architectural and design practice specializing in sports facilities, arenas and convention centers, as well as the planning and design of major special events. Populous was created through a management buyout in January 2009, becoming independently-owned and operated.

Christopher Lee, Managing Director, EMEA Populous, UK, is a Member of Coliseum – Global Sports Venue Alliance.

Pickleball is a racket/paddle sport that was created by combining elements of several other racket sports. Two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated polymer ball over a net. The ball is much like a wiffle ball, with 26-40 round holes.

Led by Populous’ design team, the project encompassed the visual and design elements of the brand, as well as the interior design and overall architecture, which will be unveiled at the company’s St. Charles outpost late in 2022 or early 2023.

Informed Bill Crooks, Chief Experience Officer of Chicken N Pickle, “Our mission is to provide an atmosphere that fosters fun, friendship and community and our collaboration with Populous has given us a design that enhances the experience for everyone. The new design reflects our core values, including our commitment to sustainably source our food from area family farmers – hence the rural barn vernacular modernized to reflect the low tech/high touch spirit of our brand. Populous, a firm known for its expertise in bringing people together around sport and entertainment, has perfectly captured our essence and our ambition in a brand and design standard that will contribute positively to every community we serve.”

Added Populous Principal Mason Paoli, “Chicken N Pickle turned to us for our in-depth knowledge of hospitality at all scales, and our ability to incorporate their brand values into the expression of each and every visual and experiential facet of the restaurant – from the logo to the architecture. We are really proud of our partnership, helping Chicken N Pickle take their smashing success into the future with refined interiors, intentional messaging and atmosphere, and people-friendly design. Together, we are raising the standard for the visitor experience.”

The ‘Populous’ further stated that founded in North Kansas City, Missouri (US), in 2016, Chicken N Pickle today welcomes more than 700,000 visitors a year to each of its six operating locations (with three more announced and in development). Complexes feature as many as 12 pickleball courts, an expansive lawn/performance/picnic space, a chef-driven casual restaurant, and sports bar and private dining/entertaining spaces ideal for corporate gatherings and private events.

Pickleball – a sport which grew in 2021 to 4.8 million players in the United States, for a two-year growth rate of 39.3 percent – is the heartbeat of the complex. Populous, with its deep expertise in future-thinking sports architecture and design that gives spectators and visitors elevated experiences in sustainable design, was ideally suited to tackle the rebrand, the interior concept, the architecture and the synthesis of all uses and goals in one environment. In addition to sport, entertainment, fellowship and dining, the design needed to reflect Chicken N Pickle’s commitment to community and to philanthropy.

Chicken N Pickle has become a wildly popular destination for families, young adults and corporate gatherings. The company’s first move outside of Kansas City was to Wichita, Kansas, in 2019, then San Antonio, Texas, in 2020. In 2021, Chicken N Pickle opened in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Overland Park, Kansas, and Grand Prairie, Texas. Three more locations are expected to open in late 2022 or early 2023 including Grapevine, Texas, St. Charles, Missouri, and Glendale, Arizona.

The St. Charles location, the first to introduce the new design, will consist of five key offerings: The restaurant, the indoor club with six pickleball courts, the game pavilion with four open-air courts (two covered, two uncovered), the canteen (a retail and micro-kitchen with an outdoor grill), and an open yard.

The design combines Chicken N Pickle’s farm-to-table offerings with an eye towards community and togetherness. To maximize visibility and engagement for all guests, the design takes inspiration from the American Town Square, arranging all activations around the Central tree-lined courtyard at the heart of the experience. Meant to be the center of the shared guest experience, the yard functions as a town square would, a multidimensional space that can transform throughout the year for outdoor games, live music, watch parties, winter ice skating, and more.

Added Crooks, “The partnership with Populous enabled us to express our brand and our values -including delivering a special experience for guests and a rich emotional connection to the heart of each community. We are confident that this will help us propel Chicken N Pickle’s growth and influence nationally for years to come.”

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