Chicken ‘N Pickle is the real dill!

Chicken ‘N Pickle opened last year, but most STA students do not know what Chicken ‘N Pickle entails. Contrary to its generic brick exterior, Chicken ‘N Pickle is more than what meets the eye.

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People enjoy food and drink on the pickleball court at Chicken ‘N PIckle Aug. 29. Chicken ‘N Pickle has been open for a year. photo by Trang Nguyen

by Trang Nguyen, Breaking News Editor

Opened last year, Chicken ‘N Pickle, with pickleball courts and an accompanying chicken restaurant, is a new pastime for everybody including elderly seniors and adults alike. The restaurant is a 17-minute ride from STA.

Chicken ‘N Pickle is north of the river, and I, as a fellow Northerner, thought I’d take a peek inside. I had driven past the place a number of times over the past year, and the looming brick exterior was not the most welcoming sight in the world. Besides, Chicken ‘N Pickle? Who names their restaurant Chicken ‘N Pickle? After some much needed research, I realized Pickle stood for pickleball and Chicken for the main item they served in their restaurant. Hence, Chicken N’ Pickle.

Now that the title made sense, I decided I needed to see what the rave was all about. The first time I went was with a group of friends from St. Pius X High School. Upon arrival, I self-consciously walked in, not knowing if I had to pay an entrance fee, and to my amazement, there was none. The gate was wide open, welcoming any and every one.

Stepping in, I scanned my surroundings. To say surprise etched my face is an understatement. The turf courtyard on my right was filled with children and teens playing mini games like bean and ring toss. A little to the left were occupied rustic wooden benches with gossipy moms bouncing babies and men in business suits conversing casually. The smell of smoky, seasoned chicken floated through my nose as the loud pop music played from hidden speakers. The hanging lights overhead gave the atmosphere a soft, Tumblr-like effect. A building that contained the indoor restaurant was in the right-hand corner, and a balcony peeked out from the roof.

On my far left were crowded courts echoing competitive grunts and the fresh squeaks of shoes as the whiffle ball was hit repeatedly. The only complaint I had about Chicken ‘N Pickle that I hated was the parking. When I arrived, there was no nearby spot.  My dad dropped me off at the entrance and drove around, until eventually he had to park in a neighboring lot.

For pickleball, four courts were positioned outside in the setting sun, while there are four courts inside the pavilion. The sound of laughter, chatter, and music reached my ears reminding me of a breezy, cool Friday night-out.

The atmosphere was the best part about Chicken ‘N Pickle. Millennials felt especially welcome.

“[Chicken ‘N Pickle has a] nice cross-section of demographics,” Andy Gensch, national pickleball player and teaching pro at Chicken ‘N Pickle said. “The millennials have adopted this as their new fun spot. It has beer, games, good company and music.”

Pickleball is beginning to become pretty popular, and with it, many people are starting to play on a more competitive level. On Tuesday and Wednesday nights, Chicken ‘N Pickle hosts a League Night where players can play mixed doubles, or men or women doubles. Most people come with their partner, but a some meet other community members by partnering with someone else.

“[Pickleball is] the fastest growing sport in America,” Carrie Jeske, Gensch’s student said. “It’s rare to find a sport where people in their 50’s can play against people in their 20’s.”

Some may believe that Chicken ‘N Pickle is meant only for pickleball, but Gensch says that there are some people who come just for the food. At Chicken ‘N Pickle, they serve a Caribbean-inspired menu with foods like: rotisserie chicken, chicken sandwiches even chicken soups! Chicken ‘N Pickle also has two beer companies stationed inside. KC Bier Company is located down by the courts, while Boulevard is upstairs on the rooftop bar.

Organizations can rent out areas to dine, play, or even just for reunions. With a courtyard and rooftop bar, the restaurant is an irresistible hangout. Even companies like Cerner will rent out the entire facility just so their employees can bond.

All in all, I believe the location is a good spot if you need a spot for a night out with the squad. With food and sports, what could go wrong?