Culture / Sporting Life

Fort Worth Gets its Own World Class Pickleball Center — Courtside Kitchen is Not Playing Around

Big Names in the Food World are Involved

BY // 05.06.21

Chef Tim Love invested a lot of time and money into reigniting MOPAC Event Venue, tucked between University Boulevard and the railroad tracks at 1615 Rogers Road in Fort Worth. Then, COVID swept in and put most events on hold for a solid year. Now, the spacious digs are being reimagined once again, and will surface later this summer with dining, games and the growing sport of pickleball.

Yes, pickleball.

In fact, the new Courtside Kitchen will sport seven outdoor and two covered pickleball courts. It will boast more than 7,500 square feet of indoor space and more than 23,500 square feet of outdoor dining, entertainment and family fun. Fort Worth’s first dedicated pickleball facility is here.

“As America’s fastest growing sport, pickleball has really taken Fort Worth by storm,” says Zach Nichols, the league coordinator of Fort Worth Pickleball. “We have more than 200 players participating in the ladies and mixed leagues this spring and it’s only our first season.”

Seven outdoor pickleball courts at Courtside Kitchen. Rendering by Michael Gibson.

Often described as a combination of tennis and ping pong, the game is played with paddles instead of rackets, filled with fast action and played on a smaller court. It’s a lot of fun, and has a funny name, but pickleball is no laughing matter. It is also a real sport, with real sponsors and big-time tournaments.

Little known fact. . . Scott Moore, who is the six-time triple crown winner, and the No. 1 senior male pickleball player in the world, grew up right here in Fort Worth. He’s a member of Team Paddletek. On the circuit, they just call him “The Beast.” Proof positive that real men play pickleball.

But if you are not ready to take a swing at pickleball, Courtside Kitchen will also have plenty of TVs to watch sports, plus lawn games like Cornhole, and a Texas-sized Connect 4 to keep you moving.

The food and drinks are orchestrated by a familiar face — Chef Christian Lehrmann. Lehrmann remains a partner in NLD Hospitality with Sarah Castillo. They are behind Taco Heads, Tinie’s Mexican Cuisine and the new Side Saddle Saloon. Lehrmann has also put together the menus at The Porch and CBD Provisions in the Joule Hotel in Dallas.

An illustration of the indoor space at the new Courtside Kitchen. Rendering by Michael Gibson.

Lehrmann’s Courtside Kitchen menu will range from poke bowls to Nashville style hot chicken sandwiches, flat iron chimichurri steak and fries.

“We want to provide items that you crave on a normal basis, but reinvented in a new and fun way,” Lehrmann says. “Both the food and beverage menus will be eclectic and interesting. Everyone will enjoy having fun with us.”

Courtside Kitchen will also serve craft cocktails, a large selection of draft and local beers, and an extensive wine and tequila list. Chef-inspired brunch entrees and drink specials will be available on Saturdays and Sundays. The outdoor beer garden will be draped with festoon lights for ambience.

“All I know is that Fort Worth loves to have great time. We saw a need for an exciting and fun place where people could be active and social at the same time,” Matt L. Johnson, Courtside Kitchen’s equity partner and owner/operator, says in a statement. “Courtside Kitchen will be truly unique in ways that only Fort Worth can be. It will be a lively and fun place to bring your family, meet your buddies after work, or even get a workout.”

This summer the ball will be in your court. Pickleball anyone?

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