Lace up your sneakers and skates: Kraken Kourts—a sprawling pickleball venue and indoor roller skating rink with a bar serving food and drinks—opens today in Edgewood.
Once a Forman Mills department store, the massive 70,000 square foot facility (which neighbors other entertainment spaces like Alamo Drafthouse, the Van Gogh Immersive Experience, and Metrobar) houses 14 pickleball courts, an indoor roller skating rink (currently the only one in DC), a bar with food, and lots of cozy courtside cabanas for kicking back.
While pickleball and rollerskating might seem like a bit of a random mashup, owner Anna Valero says they make perfect sense for what she is setting out to do: create a space where people of all ages and athletic abilities can hang out. (Though, it should be noted, the facility becomes 21+ after 9 PM.)
“Coming out of Covid, any activities that allow for that community or connection are ones that are going to be super powerful,” said Valero, also the owner of Hook Hall and Kraken Axes and Rage. “You can kind of reknit the social fabric.”
The facility is also a pretty big deal for two other reasons. Pickleball has been the fastest-growing sport in the country for the past three years—and spots to play around DC have been in high demand. Additionally, despite the District’s rich roller skating culture, especially within the Black community, the city has lacked an indoor rink since the ’90s. (Fun fact: Our region even has its own distinct skating style called “snapping.”)
“It’s been really cool to talk to some of the native Washingtonians and seniors, because all of them can tell you about the roller skating rinks that used to exist in DC,” said Valero. “So seeing their eyes light up at this idea of being able to bring it back has been [rewarding].”
For those who are not into roller skating or pickleball, there are plenty of spaces just to hang, too. Aside from the cabanas and dozens of picnic tables, a forthcoming 30,000 square foot beer garden is on its way, and other games, including corn hole, giant Jenga, darts, and ping pong, are spread throughout the facility. “We wanted to create a space where people can gather, even if they aren’t engaging in either of the activities, but still feel like they’re part of the action,” said Valero.
The massive space slightly resembles a large community recreation center, only more vibrant—thanks to muralist Chris Lynch, a colorful kraken sea monster and its tentacles spans the venue’s walls—and with alcohol and food, via Coleman’s Kitchen. On the menu, you’ll find early-morning bites, including breakfast wraps and fruit salad; main entrees; and late-night eats, such as hot wings, pretzels, and funnel cake. The venue will also offer catering from Taqueria Habanero, which has a location down the street. Local beers from spots like Red Bear and City-State will be on the menu, as well as canned cocktails and NA brews.
Oh, and don’t feel shy if you’ve never played pickleball. The place welcomes absolute newbies (with signs for how to play posted to each court and several classes available) as well as experts (tournaments are in the works). Kraken is also partnering with Volo, DC Fray, Zog Sports, and Chocolate City to form leagues—not just for pickleball, but corn hole and darts, too.
Aside from joining a league, there are several other ways to get on the court: You can reserve one, with rates starting at $15 per hour; swing by for drop-in and open play, which is offered across four different skill levels and starts at $10 for two hours; or throw a Pickle Party, which includes two courts and two cabanas for 30-to-75 people, starting at $350.
Likewise, there will be skating classes and rink-side party cabanas available for rent. Drop-in skating starts at $8, while skate rentals cost $5 a pair. The wobbly among us will also appreciate the free walkers available.
“It’s been really cool to see strangers helping strangers learn how to play or skate,” said Valero. “It’s really a space that allows you to create connections across all ages. Today, for instance, we had a 90-year-old pickleball player on the court. … Having that spectrum [of players] is what’s so great.”