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March 21, 2024

Dill Dinkers group eyes 10 new CT pickleball locations, starting in Simsbury

Costar A new Dill Dinkers pickleball court will open soon in the former Simsbury Home Goods site.

A local group of sports enthusiasts is looking to bring a new pickleball franchise to Connecticut, eyeing 10 locations throughout the state, starting with courts in Simsbury.

Max Johnson is managing director and minority owner of The Pickleball Brothers, a local affiliate of Maryland-based Dill Dinkers Pickleball. He’s partnered with Scott Johnson, Zach Larichiuta and Wayne Johnson, all of Connecticut.

The group bought the Dill Dinkers franchise rights in Connecticut, coastal South Carolina and Savannah, Georgia, Johnson said, and recently signed a 10-year lease for 23,900 square feet at a former HomeGoods store location in the Simsbury Commons plaza, at 500-530 Bushy Hill Road. They plan to open a Dill Dinkers facility with seven courts -- six champion-sized courts and one of standard size.

Johnson said he is hoping for a late summer grand opening in Simsbury, pending local land use approval, renovations by the landlord and converting the retail space into courts.

The group plans to open 10 Dill Dinkers locations in each state, and will operate all 10 in Connecticut or sell franchise opportunities.

Johnson said the group is actively seeking other ideal locations in Connecticut, including in retail, warehouse or industrial sites.

Pickleball popularity has exploded in recent years as a fun and easy sport for nearly all ages and abilities.

Many facilities have, or will soon open in Connecticut. Some are co-located with other amenities like food courts, common work areas, or even breweries, bars and dedicated social areas.

The Dill Dinkers brand is a more simple model with just courts, “as a place to play, be social, get some exercise and have fun,” Johnson said. “We have no bar or restaurant, just come and play.”

The Dill Dinkers site is close to other retail and commercial establishments in the Simsbury Commons plaza like restaurants, a movie theater, and go-karts. The plaza owner, Johnson said, was enthusiastic about the new pickleball site, looking to make the Commons into a regional destination for recreational activity, dining out and entertainment.

The group is investing “under $1 million” to turn the former home-furnishings store into a pickleball site, Johnson said.


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