Emerging Brands

Here's another pickleball concept, this one backed by NRD Capital

Industry veterans Aziz Hashim and Mike Rotondo are behind The Pickle Pad, a franchise concept scheduled to debut next year.
The Pickle Pad is one of a growing number of pickleball-themed eatertainment concepts with food, drink and courts. | Photo: Shutterstock.

The pickleball eatertainment concepts just keep coming.

Scheduled to debut in Florida in 2024 is The Pickle Pad, an indoor pickleball “playground” that will feature Crave Social Eatery with a full menu, beer and wine and more.

It’s a franchise concept developed by Indoor Active Brands,  which also owns and franchises Altitude Trampoline Park.

But perhaps more importantly, Indoor Active Brands is a portfolio company of private-equity firm NRD Capital, and a managing partner is Aziz Hashim, who has a long history in restaurant franchising and has worked with brands such as Popeyes, KFC, Taco Bell and Domino’s Pizza.

NRD owns Frisch’s Restaurants, and last year sold Fuzzy’s Tacos to Dine Brands Global for $80 million. The investment firm had also acquired then-struggling Ruby Tuesday in 2017, though the casual-dining chain filed bankruptcy in 2020, only to emerge in 2021 a significantly smaller chain.

The Pickle Pad, meanwhile, aims to capture the growing interest in pickleball, which has been called America’s fastest-growing sport. Several pickleball-themed eatertainment concepts have been popping up across the country, offering venues for food and drink, alongside both indoor and outdoor courts.

The idea is to offer franchisees several different revenue streams, said Mike Rotondo, CEO of Indoor Active Brands, in a statement.

“Indoor Active Brands offers franchisees the support of an experienced private capital firm and leadership team to enable their success,” he said.

Also CEO of Altitude Trampoline Park, Rotondo also has a long history in the restaurant world. He is a former CEO of Tropical Smoothie Café, and has also worked with Wendy’s, Arby’s and was a previous CEO of Edible Arrangements.

At The Pickle Pad, various membership packages will be offered, and the venue will be designed as a “comfortable setting where it does not matter if you are ‘pickling’ or not,” the company said in a press release.

NRD Capital, which is based in Atlanta and Dallas, did not immediately respond to requests for more information.

Hashim in a statement said the launch “taps into the strengths and expertise of our best-in-class management team and responds to a greater consumer demand for fun, physical activities for both kids and adults.”

UPDATE: This story was updated to clarify where NRD Capital is based.


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