North KC’s Chicken N Pickle expands into JoCo’s Prairiefire with rooftop bar, ice rink

More than two years after becoming a destination draw in North Kansas City, Chicken N Pickle is expanding in the metro.

It will become the signature tenant in the final phase of the Prairiefire development at the southwest corner of 135th Street and Nall Avenue. It is scheduled to open in fall 2020.

And the pickleball competition is on. Another complex, Pickle Bar + Kitchen, also recently announced an Overland Park location, with a scheduled fall 2020 opening.

Chicken N Pickle is an indoor/outdoor entertainment complex centered around pickleball. The new location will have six indoor courts and four outdoor. It will offer clinics for beginners, as well as for more advanced players, and pickleball tournaments. There will be a large rooftop bar and stages for live performances.

A variety of lawn games, indoor games including ping-pong and Foosball, and a sports bar featuring local craft beers will add to the mix.

Chicken N Pickle’s fast-casual, chef-driven restaurant will offer wood-fired rotisserie chicken, hand-cut fries and tots, and other menu items using locally sourced ingredients from such vendors as Campo Lindo Farms, Good Natured Family Farms and Yoli Tortilleria.

“The restaurant will be about twice the size as in North Kansas City — 13,000 square feet compared to about 6,200 square feet — so we will have more capacity to do more things,” said partner Bill Crooks. “We will more have sides, more smoked meats, fried pickles. Larger cocktail selections. We will be able to do more customize-able menus for catering.”

It will seat more than 500 people — but be able to hold more than 1,000 — and have 150 to 175 employees.

Chicken N Pickle opened in Wichita earlier this year. It plans to open in San Antonio, Texas, in early 2020, and in Oklahoma City’s new development, The Half, in summer 2020.

David Johnson, founder and partner in Chicken N Pickle, said customers have been asking for a location on the Kansas side since the North Kansas City complex opened.

“Pickleball is very easy to learn to play, easy to get competitive at very quickly. If you have never played I can have you having fun in 10 minutes,” Johnson said.

The partners plan to keep building the North Kansas City market by expanding the rooftop and enclosing part of it for an event space seating up to 125 people.

The Overland Park Chicken N Pickle will have additional amenities including a “healthy Sunday brunch” after complimentary yoga, an Argentinian grill for cooking demonstrations and classes, and two event spaces.

It also will incorporate a previously announced ice rink. Merrill Cos., developer of Prairiefire, had put the ice rink construction costs at about $1 million.

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“I think they will bring in about 400,000 people annually so it will be a great addition,” said Fred Merrill, president of Merrill Cos.

Crooks put the number even higher, more like 500,000 with out-of-town visitors for tournaments and the ice rink.

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Joyce Smith has covered restaurant and retail news for The Star since 1989 under the brand Cityscape. She appreciates news tips.