View Full Version : R.I.P. Hollywood Billiards (text by Gene Miller)

L.S. Dennis
12-22-2003, 10:29 PM
Note: This piece was offered up by San Francisco tournament director Gene Miller. I thought it would be nice to share it with all who are interested in this sport and it's past.


End of another chapter in San Francisco pool

Seems like such a short while ago when I'd park my little Austin-Healey Sprite in the vicinity of the Tenderloin Original Joe's, and visit the neighborhood pool tables. Often I'd eat at Joe's first, then walk over to the bowling alley. The pool tables were upstairs, not just at the bowling alley but the two neighborhood pool halls were also located on the second floor of their respective buildings, just a few blocks apart on opposite sides of Market Street. Long staircases. I spent very little time in the pool hall nearest Original Joe's. But I would, about thirty years later.

In 1962, when I first climbed the stairs, it was called Cochran's, originally owned by Welker Cochran, a champion billiard player who died in 1959. By 1962 the room's colorful history was just that - history. It soon closed its doors. Somebody said there had been a fire. Cochran's remained closed for several years, and then it sprung to life once again in Summer 1991, totally refurbished, renamed the Q Club and operated by Tony Annigoni. I became the tournament director. One night in January 1993 I ran two tournaments simultaneously while Rob Nilsson was filming his movie, "Chalk."

Eventually ownership changed and it became Hollywood Billiards. Then came another new owner, and another. It didn't take a trained observer to realize the room was fading. The new owner faced a monumental challenge.

Saturday night, December 6, a fight broke out in the room, climaxing with gunshots and several people injured. I was told one person eventually died from a bullet wound. Four days later when I arrived to run my Wednesday 8-ball tournament, Hollywood Billiards was a ghost town. Food from "Joshua's Kitchen" was no longer available, their liquor license was "going to be renewed Friday," and only two employees and four customers were in the building. Attendance had fallen off tremendously. I had planned an 8-ball partners tournament for Sunday the 21st, and as I was leaving Wednesday the 17th, Kong told me to let everybody know they would be offering free coffee and sodas. I was adding $500 prize money and it would be fun. Thursday night Bill Johnson told me he had seen an ominous sign on the door at Hollywood. I tried to phone Hollywood. No answer. Friday evening, the 19th, at about 6:00, two hours before my weekly nine-ball tournament was to begin, manager Steve Magnuson phoned me with the news that the room was "closed indefinitely."

To be continued? Next owner? Well, the tables are still in there. Let's cross our fingers.

12-23-2003, 07:42 AM
Nice piece. I'm thousands of miles from there but feel a deep sadness. "ask not for whom the bell tolls..."

L.S. Dennis
12-23-2003, 11:52 AM
Thanks Jim, I'm sure Gene would thank you as well!

12-23-2003, 01:01 PM
Yet another great old room bites the dust... R.I.P. indeed.
It was also a sad day when the old California Billiards on Stevens Creek Blvd in San Jose, CA closed a number of years ago.


L.S. Dennis
12-23-2003, 02:35 PM

12-23-2003, 05:36 PM
Nicely done, I too shed a tear for the old 1028 club.


ted harris
12-24-2003, 10:50 PM
My wife Kathy and I have many memories of The Q Club and Hollywood Billiards. Whenever we were in San Francisco, we always had our motorhome parked right outside. I did repairs at a couple of tournaments there. Played some sets with Helmet Head, Han Chung, and a few others. The room will definitely be missed. Made many good friends there. Hope to see you all soon. Loved the room and San Francisco. Definitely a tie for our favorite city along with The Big Apple. Hope to get back there soon! /ccboard/images/graemlins/mad.gif

L.S. Dennis
12-28-2003, 11:29 PM
Well what was it that Yogi Bera said,"it ain't over till it's over"?. I was in San Francisco last night and the subject of Hollywood Billiards closing came up during a discussion I was have at another billiard room up there, and well there still may be a little daylight in that place yet. To be continued,

L.S. Dennis
12-30-2003, 11:04 AM
The joint may not be done quite yet, stay tuned.