Thursday, December 21, 2023

[ALERT] Trampoline Joint Launching Pickleball Franchise

A new indoor activity concept is launching soon and likely has Atlanta in its sights.  The Pickle Pad, a new venue from the owners of Altitude Trampoline Park, plans to open its first unit in Florida next spring, with plans already underway to franchise the concept.  

Interestingly, the first location of The Pickle Pad (1925 N Monroe Street, Suite 109) is taking the place of a short-lived outpost of Altitude which opened in March of 2022 and abruptly closed this past August.  

Altitude CEO Mike Rotondo, who at the time of the Altitude opening said "I am thrilled to not only bring this great brand to Tallahassee but also to personally invest in the brand and this community," is now head of the newly created "Indoor Active Brands," a portfolio company of Atlanta-based NRD Capital.  Indoor Active Brands includes both Altitude and now The Pickle Pad.  

The Pickle Pad will occupy a roughly 27,000 square foot space next to Planet Fitness with both sharing what was previously an Albertson's grocery store.  When Altitude opened it replaced similarly marketed venue, Sky Zone.  

A press release this month proudly announces the introduction of The Pickle Pad, calling it "unlike any other indoor sports venue."  

"The Pickle Pad promises to be the destination for both pickleball enthusiasts and novices, as each location will offer fun, great food, and social activities for the entire community to enjoy. The venue will feature several interactive social and indoor yard games, a full-service chef-inspired restaurant – Crave Social Eatery, and, of course, pickleball for all ages."

Shockingly, The Pickle Pad, via its onsite and super original restaurant "Crave Social Eatery," will offer seven-day food with breakfast, lunch, and dinner, a breadth of menu offerings that seems almost too optimistic to be executed consistently.  

Prior to joining Altitude as its CEO in December 2019, Rotondo was CEO of Atlanta-based Edible [Arrangements] for about eighteen months, and before that he was with Atlanta-based Tropical Smoothie Cafe for more than ten years, where for the greater portion of his time he served as the company's CEO. 

Joining Rotondo in building the new concept is Robert Morris, who serves as VP of Development, Indoor Active Brands.  Morris has many years in the "entertainment" space having joined Altitude in late 2020 and having also spent time at Andretti Indoor Karting and Games as well as Kings Dining & Entertainment, among others.  

Also joining the team is Eric Gagnon, who launched We Sell Restaurants, a restaurant brokerage, more than 20 years ago, and today franchises the concept nationwide.  According to The Pickle Pad website, Gagnon is the new concept's "Certified Franchise Executive."  

Kyle Maxam , a veteran of Dave & Buster's, Main Event and BogShots Golf, among others, is serving as The Pickle Pad's Director of Operations, according to his LinkedIn profile.  

Zyaire Williams, who served as General Manager of Altitude Tallahassee from January 2022 to August of 2023 is now General Manager of  The Pickle Pad, according to her LinkedIn profile.  

The Pickle Pad concept is based on a membership model, not unlike the premise at Altitude.  Specific pricing and details of the offering in Tallahassee have yet to be released.  

The idea that NRD is already pushing franchising of what is in reality a completely new, unproven brand and concept, is a little disconcerting.  NRD is, of course, the same private equity firm that backed the ill-fated expansion of The Captain's Boil in metro Atlanta after which it opened and closed two locations in less than a year and called off additional expansion.  

Two of the Atlanta area units were later reopened as The Original Hot Chicken and Inked Tacos, twin concepts that have seemingly experienced mixed results but ones that NRD also began to aggressively market to potential franchisees. 

To be fair, pickleball is reportedly the fastest-growing sport in the nation and The Pickle Pad is one of several up and coming pickleball concepts looking to expand and is not the first to market franchising incredibly early.  

Founded in 2021, The Picklr has seven company-owned locations open, with six in Utah, where it’s headquartered, and another in Colorado. The brand launched its franchise program in 2023, and since September, has agreements signed for 110 units.  The company plans to have 300 franchise locations sold by the end of 2024 and 500 in the next few years.  According to the company's website, there are at least five locations of The Picklr planned for Georgia although its unclear where or when the first locations in the state may open.  

Locally owned Ace Pickleball Club opened its debut unit in Roswell this past July and has reportedly already sold approximately 50 franchises around the country including at least one in "Atlanta."  

Robert Thompson, founder of Punch Bowl Social, also has a pickleball concept in the works, with plans to open the first "Camp Pickle" in early 2024 in Huntsville, Alabama.  Thompson has said he will scale the business thereafter with Atlanta one of the first ten markets he plans to enter by the second half of 2026 

Justin Amick and William Stallworth and their Painted Hospitality plan to debut their new concept, The Painted Pickle, in January at Armour Yards.  The new concept will span more than 30,000 square feet with nearby access to the new the Atlanta BeltLine extension.  Unlike the aforementioned concepts, Painted Pickle is not being designed to be a huge, multi-unit franchise entity but rather a curated, local experience by Atlantans for Atlantans.  

In November, Macon-Bibb and Visit Macon  in partnership with The Sports Facilities Companies (SFC), opened "Rhythm  and Rally," a 150,000 square foot pickleball facility that promotes itself as "the world's largest indoor pickleball facility."  Rhythm & Rally features 32 courts - sixteen on each of its two levels - in a space in Macon Mall once occupied by a Belk.  

According to their website, The Pickle Pad is actively seeking qualified candidates to help grow its footprint throughout the U.S. specifically in the Southeast and Midwest regions. 

Are you an avid pickleball player?  Are you currently a member at any pickleball club?  What pickleball concept most intrigues you?

Please share your thoughts below.  


Anonymous said...

Nothing intrigues me that isn't in Atlanta.

Anonymous said...

I prefer my pickles to be half-sour. Where can I find a half-sour pickle?

Anonymous said...

Virtually any grocery store.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...