Rally gets pickleball fans to play and stay

Cuisine Entertainment Sports

July 31, 2023

Come for the pickleball, stay for the craft cocktails, burrata boards and brick-oven pizza. Rally, a pickleball venue — and a whole lot more — debuts in South End.

by Cathy Martin

Pickleball courts are everywhere in Charlotte, from public parks to country clubs. But where can you get a hazelnut-pesto pizza, Aperol spritz or rosemary-vanilla latte while hanging out with friends between games?

“We really wanted to bring something new to the sport,” says Barrett Worthington, co-founder of Rally, a pickleball venue that opened in June in Lower South End. Worthington and Meg Charity, a pro pickleball player, sought to create an upscale environment for active millennials and others to play the game, accompanied by chef-driven food, craft cocktails and specialty coffee.

Rally founders Meg Charity and Barrett Worthington sit on a couch at the new pickleball and entertainment venue in Charlotte.

Rally founders Meg Charity and Barrett Worthington

“We both have a tennis background but instantly fell in love with the very social aspect of the game,” Worthington says, citing pickleball’s low threshold to entry. Games typically only last about eight minutes, it’s easy for players to rotate in and out, and the sport is extremely spectator-friendly.

Rally was five years in the making, according to the founders, who previously ran a business hosting pickleball events and festivals. No detail was overlooked in designing the 1.9-acre venue, which has two cocktail bars, a restaurant, a coffee bar, ping pong tables and eight pickleball courts. The founders view the LoSo Rally as a flagship for the brand and anticipate opening more U.S. locations in the next few years. Here’s a look around.


Designed by Washington, D.C.-based Lumber & Light with Charlotte architecture firm Redline Design Group, Rally sprawls across a large corner lot and includes more than 27,000 square feet of indoor space. Each pickleball court (four indoor, four outdoor) has a dedicated lounge area and server.

Following the LoSo aesthetic, there’s an industrial vibe; warmer elements like white oak hardwoods, rattan pendants, area rugs and fresh greenery soften the space. Other stylish details include vibrant murals with a Queen Charlotte motif by J.D. Deardourff, custom grasscloth wallpaper, and a punchy coral-and-aqua court paint scheme designed in the Netherlands.

The entrance to Rally; one of two on-site cocktail bars

There are plenty of comfortable spaces for relaxing, whether you’re playing pickleball, watching others, or meeting friends for coffee, happy hour or a bite to eat. The Annex bar, in a separate building that also houses a private event space, has a sophisticated, cocktail-lounge vibe with an open kitchen and a spillover patio for catching the action on the outdoor courts.


Rally is a communal space, so much of the food is communal as well, says Executive Chef Cory Chunn. Expect Neapolitan pizzas, tacos, boards and kebabs along with salads, bowls and handhelds. “All of our food is meant to be interactive and fun,” says Chunn, a former chef at La Belle Helene. There are refreshing cool treats, like fresh fruit pops — Chunn and his wife previously owned a popsicle business — and liege waffle cinnamon ice cream sandwiches.

A Neapolitan pizza

The cocktail program was developed by Boston mixologist Jackson Cannon with an emphasis on “light, citrusy and refreshing,” Cannon says. For example, the Double Bounce, Rally’s take on the traditional espresso martini, is made with a custom vodka blend, coconut water and soda and served over ice in a Collins glass. Syrups and orgeats are made in-house, and premium mocktails are a key part of the menu.

Rally teamed with Nightswim Coffee to develop a menu of traditional espresso and coffee drinks complemented by seasonal flavors like honey lavender and pineapple ginger matcha.


Courts can be reserved in 90-minute blocks starting at $72 for outdoor courts and $84 for indoor courts, with a 12-person maximum per court. Rally also offers classes, competitive and leisure leagues, and a corporate wellness program, according to director of pickleball Jim Kucera.

There’s Rally Rookies, a one-hour beginner class, and Pickle Pump, a fast-paced workout supplement with drills where players will “hit as many balls as we possibly can,” says Kucera, a former tennis pro who came to the Queen City via Charlottesville, Va.

Wednesdays at 6 p.m., Rally hosts a social on the outdoor courts with up to 32 players rotating in and out of games. “A big part of pickleball culture is just show up and work yourself into the court,” Kucera says. “That’s sort of the spirit of this.”


Rally is located at 101 Southside Dr. and is open seven days a week. Court reservations open online five days in advance. Rates start at $72 for outdoor courts and $84 for indoor courts; prices include equipment rentals. Afternoon and evening rates are higher. No reservations are required to dine or drink at Rally’s bars, café and coffee bar. rallypickleball.com  SP

photographs courtesy Rally

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