Pickleball and more: New business serves up indoor courts, full menu, bar in Algonquin

Pickleball players will be able to play the sport year-round at the only indoor courts in McHenry County when Pickle Haus opens this week in Algonquin.

Co-founder Graham Palmer last week described the business as an "eater-tainment" concept. The 40,000-square-foot building has 17 indoor courts, two golf simulators, a coffee shop and a full kitchen and bar.

"The big thing about this place is the social aspect," Palmer said. "If you are a professional or have never played, we are the place for you."

Pickle Haus, located at 1621 Randall Road, will open on Friday, Nov. 17.

The five founders from real estate developer Hubbard Street Group and College Park Athletic Club collaborated on the concept earlier this year, and construction quickly started July 1.

"We looked at the building, and I said, 'This is actually a perfect building,' " co-founder John McLinden said.

The site - the former location of Dania Furniture - was unoccupied for about five years, McLinden said. It originally was going to be a 24 Hour Fitness gym in 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic shut down all gyms, and the company pulled out.

Co-founder and general manager Benj Ecker said at the ribbon-cutting that pickleball is "America's fastest-growing sport."

The sport grew almost 15% from 2020 to 2021 and has had an average growth of more than 11% over the past five years, according to USA Pickleball.

"It's not only fast-growing in the United States, it's going to be fast-growing in Algonquin," Village President Debby Sosine said.

The sport's surge in popularity has seen many new pickleball courts around McHenry County, including some converted from tennis courts.

Pickle Haus will have professional players on staff to provide training and leagues on the "first-class courts," McLinden said. Ecker said Pickle Haus in the coming weeks will have leagues, a chance to play with professionals, and a 1980s-themed night and other events.

"What we're branding here is much more upscale," McLinden said. "A lot of places will just throw some paint down and draw some lines."

Five cabana courts, which serve larger groups at a premium price, have couches and TVs and will provide food and drink orders to the court. Players also can rent out an event space for large parties, from birthdays to corporate events.

The grab-and-go coffee stand will serve Evanston-based Backlot coffee and bakery items from Wheeling-based West Town Bakery. Sandwiches and salads will also be served to players, making it an easy option as they walk out the door, Palmer said.

Also, the entrance area will have a boutique pro shop selling essential pickleball equipment, merchandise and clothing.

The restaurant provides food created by chef Sheamus Feeley, who has helped open restaurants nationwide. Menu items include pizzas, salads and a weekend brunch menu.

Palmer said the food is "eclectic."

"What we focus on is the wellness aspect," McLinden said. "We don't even have a fryer in the back."

Fox River MedSpa & Chiropractic founder Julie Bevel said she is excited to see the building finally being occupied. The spa is a neighbor of the new pickleball complex.

"I'm excited that they are going to bring health, wellness and fun," she said.

At the front of the building, big doors open to an outdoor patio setting with fire pits and TVs.

"We are going to have a fun, festive feel," Palmer said. "Anyone can come here, even if you don't want to play pickleball."

Palmer said there are big plans for Pickle Haus in the future. He's looking to create outdoor courts and open at least three other locations in the Chicago area.

"People want pickleball to be a 12-month sport," Palmer said. "But in colder climates, it's only a four-month sport.

Workers on Friday put the finishing touches on the patio area of the new Pickle Haus in Algonquin. Gregory Shaver/Shaw Local News Network
The Pickle Haus in Algonquin offers indoor pickleball courts, food and drinks. Gregory Shaver/Shaw Local News Network
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