By Ginger DeShaney
PKL Boston is not just a pickleball facility. It’s a destination. A gathering place. A celebration waiting to happen.
“There’s somebody every day who is celebrating something and you get to be part of those moments,” said Katie Coakley, one of the owners of PKL at 64 C St.
“That connection is what drives me; it’s what brings me into work every day.”
PKL opened in June 2022 and already thousands upon thousands of people have gone through its doors, including 20,000 unique pickleball players.
The 22,000-square-foot facility, which features amazing space monkey murals by BlindFoxArt throughout, houses five pickleball courts. For the hardcore pickleballers, there are leagues, tournaments, and open play. For beginners, PKL offers lessons, clinics, and mixers.
“It doesn’t take long to fall in love with pickleball,” Katie said.
“The biggest complaint we’ve had is that people can’t get a court,” Katie said. So PKL is offering walk-in rentals on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Otherwise, bookings open up 2 weeks in advance.
If pickleball isn’t your jam, PKL offers 4 shuffleboard courts, a cornhole room, bars, a restaurant, and a lot of programming. PKL has hosted line dancing, a Mardi Gras party, drag shows, trivia nights, live music, and more.
“We’re always trying to do something fun,” said Katie, who owns the space with Dustin Martin and Brian Weller.
Katie has a background in PR and marketing and loves creating events. Plans are in the works for a murder mystery dinner.
PKL draws from all generations. On a recent Saturday, for example, PKL had hardcore pickleball players coming in for a tournament, and by the afternoon there were a lot of families enjoying the space.
So there may be families next to a group celebrating a 30th birthday next to a bunch of Northeastern students. “It’s just a melting pot of a bunch of people and it’s really fun,” said Katie. “It’s good that there are so many different generations that can bond over the sport.”
Katie (35), Brian, and Dustin (both 40) came from the fitness industry, running Barry’s Bootcamp in Boston. During the pandemic, they were looking for fun ideas for things to do outside. They decided to test out the pickleball concept with a pop-up in Somerville with plans to open in South Boston.
“We love doing something active and the three of us also really share a love for thoughtful food and good beer and craft cocktails, so PKL is where those two passions met.”
The trio wanted a space near downtown and South Boston is the perfect fit. “South Boston is a great neighborhood,” said Katie. “It has a feel, right, it has a vibe, it has an energy. It’s great. I love South Boston.”
Pickleball is a social sport and accessible to people of all ages and athletic abilities. “It was a no-brainer for us,” Katie said. “It was a place we wanted to hang out every day.”
PKL’s executive chef is Christopher Walker, a “Chopped” champion. His menu is elevated bar fare, Katie said, with shareables and entrees.
Items include wagyu pigs in a blanket, zucchini + squash chips, steak frites, and pan-seared chicken.
Craft cocktails have catchy names such as the Pete Davidson (the ladies can’t get enough), the Fiona Apple Cider, and the Harry Styles (classy like your grandma’s pearls).
The most fun part of this endeavor for Katie is the people.
“I am such a people person. I love the variety of people that come in and just talking to the people from the community or outside of the community,” she said. “It’s so fun to hear what brought them in, what they’re celebrating.”
- Website: https://playpkl.com/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/playpkl/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PKLBoston
- Monday through Wed: 7-9 a.m. & 4-11 p.m.
- Thursday & Friday: 7 a.m.-1 a.m.
- Saturday: 8:30 a.m.-1am
- Sunday: 8:30 a.m.-10 p.m.