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Indoor Pickleball facility to open in Simsbury

Brothers plan to operate several Dill Dinkers locations to "promote Physical, Mental, and Social Health through the play and joy of the game at dedicated pickleball facilities."

By Ted Glanzer

Staff Writer


Pictured, left to right, are: Zach Larichiuta, Scott Johnson, Max Johnson, and Wayne Johnson.

SIMSBURY – Pickleball is ubiquitous.

The paddle sport, which combines elements of tennis and ping-pong, is expanding in Simsbury with a private venture by a local sports group, The Pickleball Brothers, that plans to open a new facility in the location of the former HomeGoods location in Simsbury Commons. (HomeGoods recently moved to a site in Avon).

The venture, led by managing director Max Johnson with partners Scott Johnson, Zach Larichiuta, and Wayne Johnson, is the first of what is hoped to be 10 Dill Dinkers facilities in Connecticut alone.

Max Johnson, in an interview, said the group is currently finalizing plans with the town’s zoning commission, but he’s been told that it’s primarily a formality as the building is zoned for recreational purposes.

“We’ve been wanting to open a business together forever,” Johnson said. “We had a close family friend telling us about pickleball for years and years and years, and he has a son who is a pro pickleball player. We played a little, one of the brothers plays every day and is a small investor with Dill Dinkers.

“I went to discovery day in Maryland, the franchise started in Maryland, and I was blown away at how genuine the people were. It wasn’t a hard pitch. They are honest and earnest. They were happy to answer questions and told us the things they couldn’t answer due to franchise commitments. That made me respect them more, that they follow the rules. I liked the model and the people. …[and] we bought in, pulled the cord and became regional developers.”

The group has rights to open facilities in Central Connecticut, the coast of South Carolina and Savannah, Georgia. 

Simsbury was the first choice, followed closely by Hilton Head, South Carolina, where the group recently signed a lease.

“What’s really cool is the [Simsbury] landlord has been the best landlord I’ve dealt with,” Johnson, who grew up in Simsbury, said. “They were very willing to get us in there and do a lot of work to get us in there.”

The business will be just under 24,000 square feet, with seven courts, six of which will be championship size (34x64 feet), and one standard court (30x60). 

Johnson said he’s leaning toward a cushioned court solution — approved by the Professional Pickleball Association — that is more forgiving on the joints while not affecting play.

The courts will be fenced off, so balls won’t roll into other courts.

Leagues, tournaments, and lessons will be available.

There will be a party room, a small pro shop and vending machines, Max Johnson said. 

“It’s a simple model,” Johnson said.

He said the investors’ goal is to focus on physical, emotional and social health.

“We see pickleball as an avenue for being a social sport,” he said. “I’ve heard so many stories of how it’s helped people who didn’t want to get out of the house, or a teen on a computer or on a device or someone with addiction issues, it gives them an outlet. 

“Part of Pickleball Brothers, part of our mission is to promote physical, mental and social health through the joy of pickleball. We saw this as the stars aligning.”

Mental health is an important aspect to the brothers. Scott Johnson and his wife Lisa lost their son Connor to suicide in 2016. Since then, Honor Connor | Hold Onto Hope, a Simsbury based non-profit, has worked to "Stop the Stigma and Start the Conversation” about mental health, addiction and suicide.

A partnership with Honor Connor | Hold Onto Hope to help spread that awareness will be a key aspect at the new facility.

And Max Johnson noted that the group is excited to open its first location in Simsbury.

“We’re from Simsbury; it was our first choice, we like the area, we think it will be great for Simsbury, Avon, Canton, Farmington, and parts of West Hartford,” he said. “We just really want to have people come and play and promote physical, mental, and social health. The CEO Dill Dinkers wants to be the Chick-fil-A of pickleball, in terms of customer service and taking care of everyone. … We’re super excited and can’t wait to open. The next thing to conquer is to open more.”

For more information on the Dill Dinkers franchise, contact Max Johnson at max.johnson@dilldinkers.com



Pickleball Brothers LLC plans to open a Dill Dinkers indoor facility at Simsbury Commons. Importantly, the group is partnering with Honor Connor | Hold Onto Hope, the non-profit formed after the 2016 suicide of Connor Johnson, son to partner Scott Johnson and his wife Lisa. The group’s mission is “To promote Physical, Mental, and Social Health through the play and joy of the game at dedicated pickleball facilities.”

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