New Jersey-based company Pickle Juice, LLC and MLG Realty inked a deal for two indoor Pickleball facilities with juice bars in Ventnor Heights and Blackwood, New Jersey, both of which are slated to open this summer.
“I played tennis for many years on a team with a bunch of women and played recreationally, and [pickle ball] was just something that I picked up with a friend who bought a couple of paddles, and we just decided to try it,” co-owner and founder Lisa Brody tells What Now Philadelphia. “We went out to our local municipality and there were just a few random older men playing, and we just started, and she never played again and I just continued to play. And it’s just been so much fun, it’s very addicting…and it just grew from there.”
According to a press release, the properties at 5000-5100 Wellington Ave in Ventnor Heights and 1001 S Black Horse Pike in Blackwood were scouted and leases were signed within months. Now, “the properties are being outfitted and designed to create a unique, intimate Pickleball playing atmosphere, with fresh juices and smoothies available to players and guests.”
Perhaps more importantly, however, Ventnor Heights and Blackwood offer a way for Brody to provide something new and unique for the communities her and her family call home.
“I have summered [in Ventnor Heights] for the past 38 years of my life, and I grew up with my family there, and then that turned into my husband and I raising our family there in the summers, and it’s just a wonderful community, location at the shore, relaxing, and fun,” says Brody, adding, “We chose Blackwood along the way because…it’s about 20 minutes – not even – outside of Philadelphia where there’s a definite need for indoor courts…and once I saw the location I knew it would be a great fit for all customers coming up and down the expressway.”
For both locations, Brody teamed up with local real estate developer Mark Greco of MLG Realty, which recently acquired an ailing property in Ventnor Heights, and the duo hopes Pickle Juice will inject some much-needed vitality into the area.
“We’re going to be in a shopping strip in Ventnor Heights, and it’s been there for as long as I can remember, but it never quite had the right things in it to make it survive, I guess, it wasn’t really a destination place for the people in the community. And now, since Mark Greco took over…he’s looking to get in some good, vibrant places.”
Needless to say, in the roughly five years since Brody began playing Pickleball, the sport has exploded in popularity, and the entrepreneur is ripe for expansion, including the 15 facilities she hopes to open in the next three to five years.
Despite the fact that when she started playing it was mostly older folks who took to the courts, Brody says that “Over the years, it has changed dramatically…now there are younger kids that play, there are 30-something people that are playing, 40-something, there’s just – everyone wants to get in. It’s just fun, it’s easy to pick up, you can learn the sport, and for someone like myself who still plays all the time and plays at all different levels, it’s so fun to get new people who say ‘What is this?’ and ‘How can I start?’ and ‘Will you teach me? It’s just been really, really fun.”