In its third match as a Top 10 Small Business, Chicken N Pickle earned the Chamber’s coveted Mr. K Award — signifying the North Kansas City family entertainment experience as the Small Business of the Year.
Dave Johnson, founder of Chicken N Pickle, accepted the honor Wednesday during the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Celebration Awards Luncheon.
Before the event, Johnson said that winning the Mr. K Award would have special significance for him, as its namesake — Kansas City entrepreneurial icon Ewing Kauffman — previously bestowed on him another significant accomplishment: “Mr. K gave me my Eagle Scout,” said Johnson.
“All those years ago he handed it to me, and winning an award named after him would just mean the world.”
To be named Small Business of the Year signifies that a company that has shown growth or sustainability of their business with strong employee relations, a record of giving back to the community, and prioritizes diversity, equity, and inclusion.
2022 marked the third time Chicken N Pickle was named a Top 10 Small Business, first in 2020 and again in 2021. It also took home the Entrepreneur Award in 2018.
Click here to learn more about the companies named to the Top 10 Small Business class of 2022.
The winning pickleball-focused restaurant was founded in 2016 after Johnson came up with the idea while on vacation in the Grand Cayman Islands. He wanted to create a unique experience that gave customers something to do while enjoying food and drink.
Today, Chicken N Pickle offers live music, a unique and varied menu, fundraiser locations, lawn games, and pickleball.
With six restaurants located in North Kansas City, Overland Park, Wichita, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, and Grand Prairie, Texas, Johnson plans to open three more later this year in St. Charles, Missouri; Grapevine, Texas; and Glendale, Arizona.
“We have lightning in a bottle that every community wants, and we’ve become the ‘Cheers’ of Kansas City,” said Johnson.
The Chamber also awarded its Specialty Awards at Wednesday’s luncheon, including:
- The KC Chamber Emerging Business Award: Bliss Books & Wine
- The KC Chamber Legacy of Kansas City Award: DEMDACO
- The KC Chamber Weida Award for International Small Business of the Year: KENZEN
- The KC Chamber Small Business Equity Award: Parrish & Sons Construction
The KC Chamber Small Business Celebration has been a business community mainstay for more than 30 years. It’s recognized as one of the largest Chamber small business celebrations in the United States.
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.