Judging by the palm trees that lie withered around the perimeter of the pool, Splash Club is clearly going for the island vacation vibe. “We started thinking about what we enjoyed as adults from places where we’ve travelled,” says co-owner Nick Reynolds.
Each season, the trees last until fall. “We’ll have new ones when the season starts,” says Reynolds’ partner, John McKenzie.
Splash Club memberships are at a premium these days—and for good reason. Aside from palm tress, the place has private cabanas with table service, an air-conditioned restaurant, live music and more. This year marks the debut of an ice cream parlor, and an arcade is planned … oh, and two new pools. The cost for a family of four is $700—$810 for five or more kids. Cabanas are extra.
Splash Club is one of two growing businesses hatched by McKenzie and Reynolds in two years—and that’s with a pandemic in the mix. One has already expanded to include three new locations and an adjunct enterprise. The other has a second site. Reynolds and McKenzie are textbook entrepreneurs, willing to do anything necessary to succeed. “Nick and I think about things, and we always want something different and not already there,” McKenzie says. “Then we put quality to it.”
In May 2019, the partners opened Splash Club on the site of the old Marple Newtown Swim Club. A second site debuted near Kennett Square this Memorial Day. Meanwhile, the original Opening last March on Route 3 on the weekend when the world went into COVID-induced hibernation, Delco Steaks has three new spots, including one at the Wells Fargo Center.
The duo’s latest brainchild is Marple Public House, made possible by a ballot initiative passed two years ago permitting seven liquor licenses in the township. Reynolds and McKenzie managed to secure the last one. All of these anchor businesses—Splash Club, the original Delco Steaks and the Public House—are within about a five-minute drive of each other in Broomall. Needless to say, they love their town.
A serial entrepreneur, Reynolds grew up in Newtown Square and graduated from Marple Newtown High School. Prior to Splash Club, he founded an energy auction website that connects brokers and users. McKenzie is a Malvern Prep and Penn State alum. He’s spent the last 17 years buying, renovating and selling houses. “I’m almost out of it,” says the Broomall native. “I have a few left.”
Childhood friends, the two reconnected about seven years ago when they were serving on the Marple Newtown School Board. They started the Marple Civic Association this past November, along with a youth branch for high school kids. They also run a flag football league for Marple Newtown residents; 450 kids registered in the fall of 2020. “When we say we take pride in the area, we have to show it,” McKenzie says. “This is where we’re from and where we’re staying.”
Even with the pandemic, last year was an unqualified success for Splash Club. “Kids weren’t in camp, sports weren’t taking place, and people needed a place they could take the family,” says Lisa DeMarco, McKenzie’s sister and the manager at Splash.
Delco Steaks was originally supposed to be an eat-in establishment, but the pandemic changed that. It’ll stay that way. The restaurant has a takeout window, and as the weather warms, tables will be available outside. The model was forced upon McKenzie and Reynolds, but it appears to be working.
“Nick and I think about things, and we always want something different and not already there. Then we put quality to it.” —John McKenzie
It also should work in Media, where they’ve converted an old Swiss Farms to offer a drive-thru option. Then there’s Folsom and the Wells Fargo Center. At press time, the two new Delaware County sites are scheduled to open in late spring and summer, with a miniature golf course—Delco Land—next to the Folsom location. For now, Reynolds and McKenzie own the restaurants, but the goal is to create a franchise model. “Some people get too big too fast and lose quality,” says Steve Reynolds, Nick’s younger brother and the company’s COO. “Before we expand, we want to make sure we can duplicate everything with our staff and suppliers.”
The beef comes from a farm in Chambersburg owned by Reynolds’ football teammate at Millersville University. High-quality stuff, it’s available for sale at Delco Steaks. “We pay top dollar for our ingredients,” Steve says. “We don’t want to cheap out.”
The latest McKenzie/Reynolds endeavor, the Public House sits just off of West Chester Pike on Sproul Road. It’s the only non-hotel bar in Broomall, and it aims to be the kind of neighborhood attraction the area has lacked. In typical fashion, the two will be adding some extra touches, including a free shuttle that will pick up and drop off anyone who lives in the township.
Reynolds and McKenzie have hired Dean Dupuis, former executive chef at Rouge in Philadelphia, to be their corporate chef. He’ll be curating the menu at the pub and the food at the Splash Club restaurants. “Nothing is ever easy, but we’re leaning as we go,” McKenzie says. “We have to keep making adjustments for the next swim season or the next sandwich. We need to make sure it’s all ready to go.”