A pickle is an arguably controversial burger topping or sandwich accessory. Pickleball is a sport you may have only heard about from your parents that involves you essentially playing full-sized ping pong. But PKL?
PKL is a place where they say, “One nation, under pickleball.” It’s a place for both the “pickleball purists,” as co-owner Brian Weller calls them, and “pickleball virgins.” There, they will serve up their signature cocktails while you serve on the court. And if you’re asking yourself, WTF is pickleball, don’t worry, Weller was too at first. “I didn’t even know what it was,” Weller said. “It’s one of those, fate has a funny way of letting itself be known, situations.”
The owner of the new pickleball entertainment bar in Southie had never even heard of the sport, let alone dreamed of owning a bar catered around the court one day. But, as one did during the initial lockdown stage of the pandemic, Weller resorted to doing anything to keep himself occupied, even if that anything was pickleball.
He wanted to introduce the traditional game geared toward an older demographic to a younger crowd. More importantly, he wanted everyone and every friend group to be able to play together like he did back home in Hingham, MA. Now, instead of owning Barry’s Bootcamp locations around Boston, which he sold right before the pandemic, he owns PKL. His goal was to bring back that sense of community that people lost during those months.
To him, the most important aspect is that PKL is for everyone. “There could be an 8-year-old birthday party on two courts and older parents playing with their 25-year-old daughter and her boyfriend on the next,” Weller said. “It’s an awesome melting pot of all these demographics.” His two young sons love going to PKL and one of them has developed quite the knack for the game.
The facility consists of five pickleball courts that each have their own cabana, two shuffleboard courts, a first come first served corn hole room, two bars, a restaurant and a lounge space. Yes, you read that correctly – a room dedicated to the sole purpose of playing corn hole. Could there be anything better?
There are even cornhole and pickleball leagues that you can compete in. To show the sheer popularity behind the league, there were over 100 team submissions for the 18 slots. Whether you want to take lessons, compete in a league or just rent the court for a few hours one night, the options are endless. But, it’s more than just a few paddles and a ball. PKL hosts trivia nights, corporate events and bachelorette parties and has live music, a Chopped Champion Chef and a mascot space monkey named Ernie. (In case you were wondering why, Weller loves space and monkeys and an ernie is an advanced move in pickleball. So all together, naturally, that makes Ernie the space monkey.)
As the only non-member-based pickleball court in Boston, they made sure to do their research to find out what their clients really liked and to learn the market. Over the summer leading up to their opening in October, they did a pop up in a parking lot in Somerville at Assembly Row. After taking that time to introduce their brand, it paid off, seeing how as soon as they opened their doors, they’ve been slammed from a pickleball perspective.
Even corporate events are booked through the end of November. “Everyone’s been to restaurants, everyone’s been to bars, everyone’s been to boring corporate meetings at a hotel ballroom,” Weller said. “People are looking for something different.”
And not only are customers looking for something different, but PKL is currently looking to expand to different locations across the country. Like Weller said, the legs on this thing are really awesome, and the potential has no bounds.
But, until then, come order a round and play a round at their first location here in Southie. Whether it’s a round of fun cocktails like the “Harry Styles,” the “Scary Spice Sangria,” or the “DMX(ish)” followed by a round of pickleball and cornhole, or just a round of “Post Malones” without any sporty sweat involved, the options are endless.
So, next time you and your friends find yourself in a pickle about where to go out…make a and head to PKL!
Check out our reel when we went to PKL for a visit!