Lexington Park, MD- Since opening its doors in late 2019, Willows Recreation Center in Lexington Park, MD has been catering to a wide variety of sports while serving up a tasty menu of gameday favorites accompanied by an all-star lineup of beer and wine at Sidelines Bar & Grill.
Helmed by business partners Trisha Post and Sahil “Sunny” Malhotra, the center offers year-round indoor fun for adults and kids alike with activities ranging anywhere from more well-known sports like basketball and volleyball to lesser-known activities such as pickleball.
Post, the driving force behind the recreation center, has been involved in local sports for several years and understands the importance of having a location to practice your skills on the court.
“People start[ed] reaching out. ‘Where can I play dodgeball and pickleball?’ ‘Where can I play floor hockey?’ All the sports that had been neglected were looking for spots [to play],” Post said.
In an area dominated by sports like soccer, there was an increasing need to facilitate sports that often get overlooked, she said. With that in mind, Post takes the needs of the community into consideration when adding to the growing roster of unique sports and activities the venue offers.
“We’ve had a great outpouring from the community as far as the sports they want,” Post said.
However, Willows Recreation Center isn’t your average sports center. It is also home to the popular happy hour spot Sidelines Bar & Grill operated by local bar and restaurant owner Sunny Malhotra.
As the owner of Taphouse 1637, formally The Lounge at Bollywood Masala, Malhotra knows good beer and lives each day aware of the fact that “life is too short to drink crappy beer.”
“In realizing how big recreational sports are in this area, I discovered that almost with every recreation sport, everybody ends up at a bar after the actual sport,” Malhotra said of the decision to incorporate a restaurant and bar.
From gameday must-haves like wings and nachos on the menu, Sidelines provides several tasty options to keep you going through halftime. The bar is also equipped with several beers on draft, including a few local favorites.
“[It gives] the parents something to do while the kids are playing. So the parents appreciate that a lot and it’s amazing to see that being stated all the time when parents say, ‘Hey, I’m so glad you guys decided to put this in a sports facility,’” Malhotra said.
But it hasn’t always been an easy journey for the pair when just a few months after opening they had to close due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“It has completely changed some major parts of our business. How do we, being as fluid as we are, change directions and accommodate new needs?” Malhotra said.
In addition to following CDC and state-wide mandates, the duo has taken to employing a process of fogging the arena to eliminate particles in the area between games to decrease the chance of spreading the virus.
Now that restrictions are relaxing Post and Malhotra are looking forward to getting back to hosting pickup games, business events, and sports-centric birthday and team parties where you have the option to square off against friends and family in a game of laser tag.
“One of the most basic things is being able to provide activities that parents and kids can play together. [Parents aren’t just] dropping the kid off and picking the kid up from the party. They’ve stayed and become part of the actual party and played with the kids,” Malhotra said.
In addition to pickup games and sporting events, Willows has a full-service fitness center with personal trainers on staff. They have also added several more activities like trivia nights, a basketball league for 55-year-old adults, tutoring services, and kid’s summer camps, which are still available for sign up.
Centered around the community, Willows Recreation Center is focused on creating a fun sporting atmosphere meant for everyone and every sport, and with Sidelines Bar & Grill it is a winning combination.
To find out more about Willows Recreation Center, please visit https://www.gowrc.com/.