The store was set to open in March 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic ruined those plans and the chain filed for bankruptcy protection, allowing it to break its lease, he said.
Palmer, who plays pickleball, saw the building’s potential as a pickleball venue and connected through a family member with VanDixhorn last year. Rather than just leasing the space to a pickleball business run by VanDixhorn, Hubbard Street — known in Chicago as a developer of apartments and retail buildings — decided to form a joint venture with College Park with plans to expand the Pickle Haus to other Chicago-area locations.
The Pickle Haus in Algonquin will feature 12 indoor pickleball courts, three golf simulators, an event space and an outdoor patio. Sheamus Feeley of Food is Family, a former featured chef at the James Beard House and chief culinary and beverage officer at Punch Bowl Social, has designed the restaurant and bar portion of Pickle Haus, including its menu.
VanDixhorn, who also founded a company that sells software to athletic facilities, aims to cater to hardcore and casual pickleball players and host events including birthday parties and corporate gatherings. The Pickle Haus will generate revenues mainly through court fees and food and beverage sales. It will also provide lessons and organize leagues.
Given the pickleball’s growth trajectory, VanDixhorn and Palmer plan to open more Pickle Haus locations in the Chicago area but they’re not ready to say where.
“We are very focused on Algonquin, but we are definitely interested in expanding,” VanDixhorn said. “I think the important thing for us is it has to be the right type of building in the right area to do our concept.”