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Tis the Season: Pickleball, Bowling and Bags in the City

Jun 29, 2022 03:05PM ● By NIKKI DAVIDSON


Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in America. There’s a place in Kansas City that serves as home base for fans in the Midwest. Chicken N Pickle is an entertainment complex that offers casual dining, eight indoor/outdoor pickleball courts, a bar, and an event space.

“Something is happening at Chicken N Pickle every day, whether it’s live music, a charity event, bingo, yoga, or a watch party,” said Rachel Santschi, Director of Public Relations at Chicken N Pickle. “The pickleball courts are almost always full, and the unique and fresh menu draws a crowd. There is truly something for everyone, from ages 6 to 86.”

If you’ve never played pickleball, a hybrid of tennis, ping-pong, and badminton rolled into one, you don’t have to be nervous about showing up at the courts as a true newbie. Open play is Saturday mornings from 8am to 10am for $5. At this time, the players on the courts will all be at the same skill level, fostering an environment of learning. 

 More advanced players may be interested in entering one of the facility’s three leagues: women’s doubles, men’s doubles, and mixed doubles. Courts are also available for rent, and players can lease paddles and balls.

There are plenty of options of locally crafted beer to quench a player’s thirst. The craft beer tap list includes suds from Boulevard, KCBC, Cinderblock, Logboat, Crane Brewing, Double Shift, Holidaily, and Golden Road.

“We strive to always support local companies in each market we serve,” added Rachel. Chicken N Pickle locations are also in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. “When people visit Chicken N Pickle, they’re blown away by the variety. There’s something for everyone, from pickleball and yard games to exceptional food and specialty cocktails.”

In 2016, when Boulevard Brewing moved its visitors' experience to its new space in Kansas City, they brainstormed about features and activities they could introduce to attract a new crowd. “It really was a collaborative effort from employees just dreaming and scheming about the future,” said Amber Ayres, Director of Consumer Experience for the brewery.


Inspired by brewery shuffleboard courts in larger cities, the staff decided to create a game space centered around family fun. So they installed five shuffleboard courts, a foosball table, and card and lawn games at the top of the facility, affectionately dubbed the “Rec Deck.”

The shuffleboard courts are the icing on an activity cake for the brewery’s Tours and Recreation Center, offering many options for visitors of all ages. 

“We joke that it’s the Disneyland of beer because we have three different floors of fun stuff to do,” said Amber.

 The Rec Deck is still relatively new, as it initially opened just before the pandemic hit. Each Friday night is the “Happiest Hour,” featuring food and drink specials and a shuffleboard league. As a bonus, the view of Kansas City on the rooftop top is impressive.

The Unfiltered Wheat Beer made Boulevard a brewing titan in the Midwest, and they continue to pump out new favorites. Amber notes that Quirk’s new hard seltzer line is a popular beverage of choice during league nights when people are craving a lighter drink that they can consume in session style.

“(Founder John McDonald) just is really a community guy, and he always had his friends at the brewery,” added Amber. “He believes in sort of the social aspect of drinking a beer together and coming together and community, and also doing things for the city.”

Cornhole, aka “bags” is a Midwest classic, and Transparent Brewing aims to be the destination to sink some bags in Kansas City. The brewery hosts seasonal cornhole leagues as well as two tournaments a year.

Nolan Brown, owner, and head brewer said the brewery emphasizes craft beer with lower ABVs. Most of what they make is under seven percent. “My philosophy is that there’s a time and a place for those big guys, but the majority of the time, I want something that’s an  easy drinker, and you’ll be able to have two or three beers and still be able to drive home,” said Nolan.

 He acknowledges that the brewery can be a bit of a drive from Kansas City, so he’s planned his brewing style around the idea that people might want a lighter beverage. “We want to make sure people can still hang out for two, three hours and be able to get home safely afterward,” said Nolan. “Sometimes you go into breweries, and you can only have one beer before you gotta call it a night so that you can drive home safely.”


There’s only one TV in the taproom, for a reason. The owners wanted to foster an environment where people talk and play together. “We just want to make good beer and try to capture as many people’s taste buds as we can,” said Nolan, noting that the Kickstand Kolsch is a popular choice of guests who want to play games while enjoying a beer. In addition to cornhole, Transparent also has bocce ball, a small dog park, giant Jenga, dice, and live music in the taproom 

Chicken N Pickle

1761 Burlington Street 

North Kansas City, MO 


Boulevard Brewing Co.

Tours & Rec Center 

2534 Madison Ave 

Kansas City, MO 

(816) 701-7247

2501 Southwest Blvd. 

Kansas City, MO

 (816) 474-7095

Transparent Brewing

14501 White Ave.
Grandview, MO

(816) 499-8888