From shooting hoops to creating jobs in Polk County, one star-studded athlete is part of a new sports-themed restaurant concept that is open for business.

Basketball hall-of-famer Tracy McGrady, a native of Polk County who attended Auburndale High, has invested $1 million in his new Lakeland restaurant.

HomeCourt by Tracy McGrady is a 5,000-square-foot eatery situated in Merchants Walk Plaza, right off of South Florida Avenue near the Polk Parkway in south Lakeland.

Tracy partnered with Hanson Li, the founder and managing partner of San Francisco-based Salt Partners Group, to bring a dream to life.

The restaurant is not a dimly lit, boisterous sports bar like many. Instead it is a bright, sophisticated take on a family sports restaurant.

You will recognize the restaurant immediately by the giant, bright mural of Tracy McGrady on the exterior of the building. It makes for a neat photo-op.

Inside, the basketball theme is a key part of the restaurant’s offerings. The unique, oval-shaped bar is made of reclaimed wood basketball flooring, one dining area is lined with blue lockers, and you can find Tracy’s Adidas shoe collection on display.

“I will be back because it is a nice environment to watch a game, it is kept very clean, the staff went over-and-beyond, and the menu is elevated compared to the usual bar food,” said Dr. Trey Martin, a patron of the restaurant.

The restaurant did a notable job at spacing seats out, but for guests who prefer private dining, there is an area with a high-tech golf simulator inside as well as some outdoor seating. The staff was friendly and well-versed on the food offerings.

The menu is organized creatively in categories like “Pre-game Warm Up” (appetizers), “Tip-off” (salads), “Half-time Handhelds” (burgers and sandwiches), and much more.

I expected bar food, only, and while they have some unbelievable cheesy buffalo chicken dip and sweet potato fried with marshmallow dip, the entrees were also impressive. I suggest trying the seven-time NBA All Star’s favorite post-game meal, the cajun pasta! The dish features roasted chicken, shrimp, mushrooms, caramelized onions, fettuccine pasta and HomeCourt’s signature cajun cream sauce.

Have you ever seen the ice spheres that bars and restaurants will sometimes put in a glass for a fancy Old Fashioned? If you order one from HomeCourt’s carefully crafted list, you will receive a basketball shaped/carved ice sphere! It’s all in the details for this upscale cocktail and drink menu. Try their sangrias or even their kid cocktails, like the nearly famous “Swishy Fishy” — which is made of a colorful combo of non-alcoholic beverages.

Beyond widening Lakeland’s restaurant horizons, Tracy McGrady is contributing to the community of Polk County. His passions for inspiring youth and establishing opportunities for locals have combined in the new venture. Despite not currently residing in town himself, Tracy has family and friends in the area who believe he will be visiting the restaurant regularly.

HomeCourt by Tracy McGrady is open Mondays through Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., on Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. until midnight and on Sundays from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m.

Bailey Hill is a food and lifestyle blogger, as well as a Winter Haven native, and can be reached by email at bailey@ingoodtasteblog.com or followed on Instagram at @_baileysophia.

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