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Kind of a big dill: South Side bar is Milwaukee's first with pickleball courts

Move over, pickle beers and pickleback shots. There's a new player to relish in Milwaukee's bar scene.

Pickleball, America's fastest-growing sport, is the latest activity to join the city's robust bar culture. South Side sports bar Dale Z's On Tour recently added two outdoor courts, becoming the first watering hole in the city to offer pickleball on the premises.

The bar's owner and namesake, Dale Zbieranek, purchased the neighboring vacant corner lot three years ago with hopes of adding an outdoor activity.

There's outdoor volleyball at Fat Daddy's and The Tracks, indoor whiffle ball at Broken Bat Brewery and, presumably, hundreds of dartboards and shuffleboard tables throughout the city. Zbieranek at one point envisioned the space for a quirky version of a rec room game, which he found popular at Nino's Tap in Saint Francis.

"We were originally looking to put in human foosball," he said.

But after further research on human foosball and other possible uses, Zbieranek and his team were intrigued by pickleball's popularity. He worked with alderwoman Marina Dimitrijevic and other city officials to bring the idea to life at 3585 S. Howell Ave., near the intersection with South Chase Avenue.

The regulation-size playing surface features anti-slip material installed by Phillip Rodriguez of Rodriguez Recreation (who lives just a few blocks from the bar) and is bordered by eight-foot fences with lighting for nighttime action. A courtside patio features umbrella'd tables, and Zbrieranek plans to add an outdoor shipping container bar.

"We have the best pickleball surface and the best outdoor pair of courts in the city," he said.

As the sport continues to grow, so does its presence in Milwaukee. But some courts don't provide equipment, and others experience wait times. Zbieranek's goal is to make pickleball more accessible for patrons and players.

"Some of the public courts, you have to bring your own net. Some of them, it’s difficult to get court time," he said. "We haven’t had to say 'no' yet."

Dale Z.'s offers each court in two-hour slots at $10 per person. An online system to reserve a court is in the works, but for now players can text "pickle" to 414-812-4400, and walk-ins are welcome. While bringing equipment from home is encouraged, the bar does offer pickleballs and paddles free of charge.

88Nine Social Media Manager | Radio Milwaukee