In addition to providing an incredible playing venue at their modern facility, The Pickleball Club (TPC) in Sarasota, Florida, offers members a community experience at Pickles Cafe, their onsite cafe featuring a variety of fine wine, coffee, beer, and food to enjoy before or after a game of pickleball. TPC aims for Pickles Cafe to be a “hub where conversations foster friendships,” according to Jennifer Smith, TPC’s Director of Food and Beverage. Pickles Cafe creates a welcoming environment for members to enjoy delicious food to fuel their games and rejuvenate their bodies with fellow pickleheads in their community.
The vision behind Pickles Cafe is closely intertwined with the mission of TPC, which is to “exceed [their] members’ expectation by making a difference everyday in their life and that of their community.” Having a full-service cafe allows TPC to attract members to their club for more than just a game of pickleball, encouraging members to stay awhile and enjoy conversation and relaxation with other members. From the beginning, Smith desired to create a space where members, alongside their friends and family, could “connect, dine, unwind, and create lasting memories” at TPC centered around wholesome food.
The menu at Pickles Cafe was carefully crafted and is constantly revaluated by Smith and her team to ensure they are exceeding the expectations of members and giving them the best culinary experience possible. Their food choices “reflect their vision by offering high-quality food crafted with attention to detail,” says Smith. One of the most important things for Pickles Cafe was to strike a fine balance between a terse menu to limit serving time and having a diversity of options to cater to a variety of palettes. During the menu’s development period, Smith and her team considered factors such as the freshness of ingredients, cooking time, and how ingredients could be incorporated into multiple menu items to increase efficiency in the kitchen. With these things in mind, Smith and the team at TPC were able to craft a strong and thoughtful menu for Pickles Cafe.
To complement the standard menu offerings, Pickles Cafe features seasonal options to keep the menu fresh and interesting, in line with TPC’s mission to “exceed [their] members’ expectations.” Currently, Pickles Cafe is working with their fall menu, which includes specialty items such as butternut squash for their cranberry walnut salad and pumpkin soup. Further, they are offering some fall classics like pumpkin spiced lattes and various fall-themed pastries.
Most restaurant-goers would agree that a solid menu does almost nothing to absolve poor service and the same is true at restaurants within a pickleball club. One of the central tenets at Pickles Cafe is that the food is “served by a team that becomes a part of [their] members’ enjoyable experiences.” Smith has carefully curated her team of leaders comprising those with mainly private club and food service experience. To be a good candidate for a leader at Pickles Cafe, you must be coachable, have an enthusiastic demeanor, and have an affinity for athletic events. Having a strong leadership team can be the key to being able to integrate the cafe experience with the pickleball play.
In addition to Pickles Cafe, TPC regularly hosts food trucks on site and plans to have monthly events centered around these food trucks. One of TPC’s core values is “involving [their] community as frequently as possible,” and they take every opportunity to do so by “giving [their] members a chance to savor new culinary delights with their loved ones.” This collaborative effort with the community provides both members and non-members the occasion to get to know TPC more and support local businesses.
On top of their regular operations, Pickles Cafe hosts special events such as members’ luncheons, birthday parties, business gatherings, community networking events, leagues, and staff training events. These events support TPC’s mission by “fostering community connections, enhancing member experiences… and promoting active living through leagues and training events.” Moreover, being able to serve restaurant-style food offers TPC additional business opportunities when groups of people are looking for venues to host their various events.
Pickles Cafe elevates a member’s experience at TPC by engaging them with more only pickleball play and encourages members to spend more time at the club outside their usual playing time. With a thoughtfully crafted menu and professional staff, Pickles Cafe certainly reinforces the TPC to “exceed [their] members’ expectations” in more ways than one.