“Fort Worth likes to have a good time,” Zach Nichols says with a breezy laugh. The Fort Worth native wears many hats these days, most of all being a new father; but at the Courtside Kitchen, his new restaurant in the Mopac Area of Fort worth, he's both owner and pickleball pro. Pickleball is America’s fastest growing sport for good reason; Its resemblance to tennis makes it familiar but the smaller court, affordable equipment and amended rules truly make it a sport for everyone. Nichols, along with partners: Matt Johnson, Robin Bumbstead and Scott McKnight,
saw an opportunity when they noticed tennis courts in Fort Worth being taped for pickleball. Avid fans of the sport themselves, Nichols and Johnson acquired the Mopac Event Center and started out converting it into a hybridized pickleball arena, live music venue and elevated eatery. It's impossible to argue with their results, the space is truly beautiful, inducing images of an English countryside with its immaculate courts that merge into an outdoor eatery adorned with fountains, potted plants, and pergolas, all crowned with strings of twinkling lights. Dixie Baker, courtside kitchens head of advertising, explains that the dining experience is similar to a bowling alley where patrons can casually play with a beer in hand, and servers make sure to mind the courts. Courtside Kitchen wants every patron at every skill level to feel that they’re in the right place, that's not to say that they aren't competitive, however. Along with tournaments, there is always a pro available on the courts to assist players and lessons are also offered, “after an hour of lessons you should be able to play competitively,” Nichols assures, switching out his “owner” hat for “pro,” momentarily. Nichols explains that their goal is to have a tournament each month and the tournaments they've held since their grand opening in February have filled up with lightning speed. “It's easy to sign up for a tournament, it's all online and very easy to follow, you'll want to sign up as soon as possible though; two weeks in advance for tournaments and by Tuesday for a regular weekend,” he urges.
And the pickleball isn't the only thing to come to Courtside Kitchen for. “The food is amazing, and every table gets their own cup of homemade pickles,” Baker explains. Chef Christian Lehrmann, one half of the famed Tinie’s restaurant of Fort Worth, is serving up sophisticated dishes that will have you coming back night after night. “You can come play pickleball without eating, or you can come eat without playing, and of course, you can do both, it's really whatever you want,” says Baker; but for any and all reasons you come to Courtside kitchen, prepare to experience a growing community in the MOPAC industrial area, complete with tequila ranch water on tap.