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Branson entertainment venue targets May opening

The Social Birdy to incorporate restaurant with large game lineup

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Two years after being announced, entertainment venue The Social Birdy is on the verge of taking flight this spring, officials say.

Construction of the $5 million venture is heading into the final weeks at 1250 Branson Hills Parkway, just west of several big-box retailers, such as Target and Home Depot. Co-owner Trey Pelz said a May opening is projected for the 18,000-square-foot project, which incorporates a restaurant and bar, an 18-hole putting course, pickleball courts, golf simulator bays and a full-service golf and pickleball shop.

Pelz and friends Mark Mason, Matt Martin and Chris Rohr, as well as several silent partners, own the business through MMTC Development Group LLC. Springfield-based Richards Construction & Renovations LLC is general contractor on the project with Buxton Kubik Dodd Design Collective as architect.

“We’re kind of in the home stretch of cleanup and getting things prepped and finished painting,” Pelz said, adding the completion date also will depend on weather, as outdoor work on areas such as the putting course continues.

Both the cost and size of the project has grown since its January 2022 announcement, Pelz said. The concept was originally 9,000 square feet with an estimated $3.5 million price tag.

Pelz said extensive engineering work has been the biggest issue contributing to delays. He noted the location overlooks a portion of the golf course at Branson Hills Golf Club and is about a mile from U.S. Highway 65.

“We were really wanting this location because of the proximity to 65 and the accessibility for Springfield guests,” he said. “We bought the side of a hill. And so unfortunately with sitework in the Ozarks, you don’t know what you don’t know until you get in.”

Looking out off the 4,000-square-foot back patio area that will soon have fire pits, a bocce ball court, numerous televisions and seating for 85, Pelz said he’s excited for customers to soon come and experience the venue’s unique view of the Branson area.

“We love the Ozarks. We didn’t want to take away from it,” he said. “This is a beautiful area, and so we wanted to be able to have a spot back here where you got couches and chairs and you can sit up here in the evenings and hang out, have some food, have a drink and enjoy everything.”

Amenities abound
Around 14,000 square feet comprise the interior, which includes a restaurant that Pelz describes as serving “elevated bar food.” Menu offerings include nine burger options, sandwiches, chicken wings and salads. The full bar will include an extensive selection of bourbon along with 22 craft beers on tap.

“We bought our own $30,000 custard machine, and we’ll be doing our own custard, our own recipe for that, and having really high-end milkshakes,” he said, adding the restaurant also will offer a fry flight, with flavors such as lemon pepper and garlic truffle parmesan. “You get four of our signature fries and six of our signature dipping sauces, so you can share the fries with other friends.”

As visitors enter the building, the golf and pickleball shop will be off to their immediate left.

“Our golf shop turned out to be a little bigger than we had planned. It’s also the only golf shop that we know of that’s a true golf and pickleball pro shop,” he said, noting it also will service equipment, provide club fittings and paddle regrips, as well as offer demonstrations.

“There’s nothing like being able to hold it, feel it,” he said. “If you’re going to spend $400 on a driver, why not spend $400 on a driver that you’ve gotten to test drive?”

Family project
While pickleball is one component at The Social Birdy, it’s a central activity – along with cryotherapy – on tap at a Springfield facility expected to open this summer.

The Pickle LLC and The Chilly Dill LLC are two separate businesses with the same ownership planned to launch in a 14,500-square-foot building being constructed adjacent to the Hampton Inn at 3350 E. Montclair St., near the U.S. Highway 65 and Battlefield Road intersection. The Pickle will offer four indoor courts for pickleball, as well as a training area. The south end of the building will house The Chilly Dill, a cryotherapy recovery center. 

The owners are two married couples, Christie and Tim Blasi and Katie and Steven Miller. The couples own the building and property via The Big Pickle LLC.

“Katie and I are sisters, so it’s kind of become a little family project,” Christie Blasi said, noting she and her sibling fell in love with pickleball after taking up the sport three years ago. “We also feel very passionately about the cryotherapy piece. We think that’s just very beneficial for health and recovery and wellness in general, and so we thought it would be a good fit to merge them under one roof.”

The sisters say they’ve targeted an Aug. 1 launch for the businesses, declining to disclose estimated startup costs.

The Pickle will occupy roughly 9,000 square feet of the building, while The Chilly Dill, which will include two full-body electric cryotherapy units, a cold plunge tank and massage tables, will fill about 2,500 square feet. 

“We’re currently looking for another vendor potentially in that spot,” Blasi said of around 2,000 more square feet in the building for lease. “We’ve got some possibilities, but we’re just not ready to put that out there yet.”

Dock Brothers Construction Co. is general contractor for the project designed by BRP Architects. 

Slow Goose
Several miles away, the Loose Goose commercial project announced in 2022 that also includes pickleball in its plans is still in the works but has no set timeline for start of construction, said one of its developers. Andrew Doolittle, who co-owns GDL Enterprises LLC with Willie Grega and Cameron LaBarr, said the development company purchased a building in October 2023 at 1037 S. Grant Ave. for an undisclosed price with plans to expand the project size. The building was the former home of Grant Avenue Pet Hospital.

The Loose Goose concept targeted for the southwest corner of Grand Street and Grant Avenue originally comprised a coffee shop with indoor seating and drive-thru, a food truck parking area with outdoor canopy-covered seating, green space for yard games, pickleball courts and an outdoor walk-up bar, according to past SBJ reporting. The property was approved by Springfield City Council for a rezoning in August 2022 to planned development from the Grant Avenue Parkway District, a zoning status custom designed to establish parameters for the $26 million parkway project.

“We’re just not sure,” Doolittle said of expansion plans and how or if the purchased building will be incorporated into the project. “I can’t really speak to any of it right now because we’re not quite there yet. Really, the amount of land was the attraction.”

Doolittle said GDL Enterprises now owns about 2 acres at the site and is still teaming up with local business owners Josh Widner and Michelle Billionis on the project. Widner co-owns Good Spirits Concepts LLC, through which he’s involved in multiple food and beverage businesses, including The Golden Girl Rum Club and Best of Luck Beer Hall. Billionis is owner of The Coffee Ethic LLC and co-owns Cherry Picker Package and Fare with Widner.

A timeline for the project should be determined by late summer, Doolittle said, adding the developers have yet to select a general contractor for the venture for which H Design Group LLC is architect.

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