View Full Version : Opening A Pool Hall

07-28-2004, 05:29 PM
What is going on all? I am a pool lover and have enjoyed the game since I was young. I am interested in opening up a pool hall in a upcoming and growing area. The nearest pool hall is 20 miles away and I would like to make it a classy place. I hate it when I have to listen to blasting music while playing my game. The pool space is around 12,000 square feet and ample room for couches as well as two separate bars. When I try and get a drink at the near by pool hall, it is jammed pack with people and takes a while to get a drink.

I would like some ideas from the pool junkies and see what they would like in a pool hall and what they don’t like about pool halls.

Anyone have any sources for pool tables and equipment ect. Looking for black tables with red felt.

Thanks in advance to all and hopefully my dream can come true…

07-28-2004, 05:48 PM
Fer gawds sake lose the "red felt" /ccboard/images/graemlins/shocked.gif

Calling cloth "felt" will upset the tender sensabilityes of several of the posters here.

Red is just about the worst color cloth there is. IMO

Like the idea of keeping the noise down.

Where is your new pool hall going to be?

9 Ball Girl
07-28-2004, 05:50 PM
Hi and Welcome! Here are some of my opinions of what I like in a poolhall:

1. Very clean separate bathrooms are a must!
2. Friendly staff.
3. Knowledgeable staff i.e. knowing who to give the good tables and balls out to!
4. Smart staff i.e. knows when to give a table 3 tables away from a serious player.
5. Courtesy to your regular customers--ball banger or serious player
6. Jukebox where the patron can pick what they want but you behind the desk can control the volume
7. Reasonable pricing on the food since serious players will patonize your room for hours
8. Free coffee for your regular players (the teeny size not the regular size)
9. Bug free environment would be nice

Ok the above was the fluffy stuff. Now the serious stuff.

1. I absolutely hate red cloth. That is my opinion. I hate it because it's hard for me to see, for example, the 2, 4, 7, and 8 balls. Of course it depends on the lighting.

2. Simonis cloth is a must
3. Masters chalk
4. Clean balls that are all of the same set
5. If smoking is allowed, then have a smoking section
6. Tables should always be brushed after every use and the rails should be wiped
7. Definitely have a couple of billiard tables and perhaps some snooker tables (I don't know what your budget or clientelle would be/is)
8. The all important weekly tournaments (after you've settled in I guess)
9. If you're under 18 you can't come in unless you're with an adult (especially if you're planning to have a bar)
10. The seats by the tables should be the tall ones, I hate having to crane my neck to look up to a table if I'm watching my opponent

11.If you're going to have food, then perhaps have a seating area away from the tables. How many of us have seen those awful stains on the tables?
12.Carpeting on the floor is easier on the feet than a tiled floor.

That's all. For now... /ccboard/images/graemlins/crazy.gif

07-28-2004, 06:13 PM
That's all, are you sure? LOL

Hey that red felt stuff has to go unless your customers are all on drugs, if so it's ok I guess. Lighting, don't skimp and put in those small three light fixtures on big tables on a bar box it's ok.

Speaking of bar boxes, have a seprate area from the big tables. They tend to attract a different crowd.

Last but definately not least, see your local chapter of SBA or SCORE with help on starting a small business.

That's all I have, back to you Wendy. LOL


07-28-2004, 06:19 PM
Here is what I like to see.

Good equipment maintained properly, not just the tables, but everything; the house cues, bridges, balls, fresh chalk, etc.

Don't crowd the tables. Leave enough space for games on adjacent tables to be played with minimum interference.

Lose the red cloth, and while you're at it, omit the big white hand-chalk dispensers.

Good lighting on the tables.

I like music, but not overly loud.

Good food/drinks at decent prices. I don't like paying 10 bucks for a sandwich and chips, or 5 bucks for a beer.

Reasonable table prices. A couple 3C tables would be nice.

Friendly Staff! I want to feel like they enjoy working there, and that they are glad that I (as a customer) go there.

Good luck. 12,000 sq. ft. is a pretty good sized room, I hope the rent doesn't kill your plans. That seems to be the biggest hurdle as I see it. Pool tables just don't generate that much revenue, and retail space is expensive.

You may want to contact Diamond about tables, I understand they have a pretty attractive lease deal going on the Smart Tables.

07-28-2004, 07:03 PM
Thanks for all your quick replies. I was not expecting this many responces so soon.. I know that this is a great board with a good group of people.

As for the location, its in Pasco County, Florida. The area 10 years ago was a dump and mostly cow lands. Many home builders took over this area and revamped this area into an affluent community. The homes in the area are incredible. The location is in a brand new shopping center with a large supermarket, a Target, Home Depot, 3 banks next to each other, Lowes, ect. You name it, its here in this shopping places. This plaza was just built 16 months ago, so the area is hot. Its going to be a classy point joint where non-pool players can come and have a good time. The area needs it.. There is no entertainment after 10:00 P.M. People after eating dinner can come to the chill-out bar area for a drink and others can chill by the cigar smoking lounge. Again two bars, for the separate crowds. This is a rich area, and rich people don’t mind spending more for a nice establishment.

Red is out the door then. What color options do I have besides Green? Is blue workable?

No food. To many restaurants in the area plus I do not want to deal with food.

Full liquior bar with various wines and fine spirts. Again the area needs it.

A majority of my business will be the bar. The pool is just to bring people in.

It will be a mix of things. I might be getting over my head but THIS TOWN IS DEAD AFTER 10:00 P.M. Ample parking is available and people will come. I spoke with my loan officer and told me this is a gold mind. The developer said it’s a great idea.

As for music, I do not want to play Heavy Metal or Rap music like the rest of the places. I enjoy that music but not when I am playing. I am thinking of tunes in the selection of light House music, jazz, ambient, chillout.

Nobody under 21. Simple. To much BS to deal with here in Florida.

Again thanks to all for the advice….

07-28-2004, 07:14 PM
Also, forgot to add. I noticed on this site about o’Riley’s liquidation sale on all the pool equipment. I called the number and it was a little girl’s voice talking about how she can not talk after 9:00 P.M.

Any ideas on pool auctions and closeouts. Ect.

Thanks again

07-28-2004, 07:21 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote highsea:</font><hr> Good luck. 12,000 sq. ft. is a pretty good sized room, I hope the rent doesn't kill your plans. That seems to be the biggest hurdle as I see it. Pool tables just don't generate that much revenue, and retail space is expensive.

You may want to contact Diamond about tables, I understand they have a pretty attractive lease deal going on the Smart Tables. <hr /></blockquote>

Can you say LEAGUES...? /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif


07-28-2004, 07:24 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Fik101:</font><hr> What color options do I have besides Green? Is blue workable?
<hr /></blockquote> What do you have against green cloth? Personally, if I walked into a room with 10 tables, all different colors, I would walk straight to the green one first. For me, the balls just show up best on green cloth. For 3C the blue works fine, because you only have 2 or 3 ball colors, and they all contrast well with the blue cloth.

I also agree with the idea of separating the barboxes from the big tables.

07-28-2004, 07:27 PM
Sorry for sounds dumb but what is a barbox and a big table.

07-28-2004, 07:29 PM
Sounds like a great location. I'll bet rent is high. Blue is workable IMO it's the next best thing to green. A camel color might be ok too. With a room that large I think it's a mistake not to have food. You have a captive crowd and they will get hungry, even rich people. You could set up a small kitchen, only open later unless you have day tournaments. Send people out the door to eat and they may not return.


07-28-2004, 07:29 PM
You may not want to limit finding pool equipment to auctions and closeouts. A room that used to be in biz (it was the one partner that robbed the till that did it in) literally built itself on going to all kinds of auctions. Closeout auctions for bathroom fixtures, tiles, carpeting, light fixtures - you name it, these guys bargain hunted for just about everything. Even cooking equipment.

Okay, so it may not be your first design choice, but if you're really flexible, you can pull it all together. And probably at a quarter of what it would really cost in retail or even wholesale stores.


07-28-2004, 07:38 PM
A "barbox" is what a 3 1/2' x 7' table is called. Usually found in bars.

A "big table" can reference either a 4' x 8' or 4 1/2' x 9' table.

At this point in time, you should be deciding on what kind of players you want to attract into your establishment for your business survival and that would steer you into your table purchases.


07-28-2004, 07:40 PM
A bar box is a 7 foot table. There are 8 foot tables some might call a bar box because there coin operated. Big tables is a 9 footer. You'll get a lot of income from bar tables. Many people especially new to pool like the 7 footers. The reason is it's more difficult to make balls on a big table. Playing pool and not making balls is not fun.

I think you'd better get a better handle on pool rooms, operation and equipment before you begin. Naturally we "think" our ideas are good but it could be a nightmare.


07-28-2004, 07:44 PM
Leagues!! ha ha Better have something going to fill that big room.


07-28-2004, 07:59 PM
Hey, glad to hear that someone else is getting into the business. Couple of suggestions that I have learned from my experiences.

1. What type of crowd are you looking at? College students? Retirees? Military? Tourist? Families? This plays a major part in planning your business. Depending on your crowd, they may think the red felt is cool. If you are trying to attracted the students who want a place to hang out, they may not care what type of equipment you have. However, if you want the "players" to come, good equipment is a must. Families, for example, will want a clean place, bright lighting, and easy access to bathrooms and exits.

2. You should reconsider serving food. It is extremely hard to run a bar/pool hall without feeding your customers. Remember, the longer they are in your establishment, the hungrier they will become. Do you want your patrons to leave your bar to go somewhere else to eat? Consider serving simple sandwiches, hotdogs, and snacks. You do not have to put in a complete kitchen to pull income from diners.

3. Adversise, ADVERTISE, A-D-V-E-R-T-I-S-E!!!! Spend money getting the word out. Put out a billboard, put up bright signs, think about a radio commercial. You want people to come in at least once and hopefully they are hooked. Think about putting out a coupon like "One free hour of pool" in local papers. Whatever it takes to get them in.

4. Have early/late hour and weekday promotions. These will be the toughest time to get people in your place. Do whatever you can to get them in. For example, $2 per hour from noon to 6pm. Free pool from midnight to 3am. Ladies night on Mondays. $1 pool tournament on Wednesdays.

5. Leagues are your friend. Again, weekdays can be tough to pull a crowd. Take advantage of the teams. You know that they will be there for matches anyways. Consider even giving them free table time if things get slow.

Let me know if I can help with anything else. Good luck!

07-28-2004, 09:43 PM
20 miles isn't very far apart for pool rooms. Somehow I don't see pool tables drawing customers for a nice (read expensive) bar. Might be nice to have a few tables to give the drinkers something to do.

Could be red cloth would do for that type of clientele.

Might want one nice challenge table and allow gambling if the local law doesn't hassle you. It may be illegal in Fla., certainly was when I lived there.

07-28-2004, 11:43 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Fik101:</font><hr> Sorry for sounds dumb but what is a barbox and a big table. <hr /></blockquote>
Oh dear! You need help, so, contact the BCA and get their info packet on opening a pool hall. It will cost you around $100 or so but save you thousands and lots of headaches.

07-28-2004, 11:50 PM
Check with Barry Behrman. He puts on The U S Open 9 Ball Championship in Sept in VA. He will have around 20 brand new Diamond Tables, 9 ft, played on by some of the best players in the world for a week. Then he sells them. Might be a place to look. He sells them cheap, if you buy all 20, night be cheaper. Never know till you ask.


07-29-2004, 06:03 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Fik101:</font><hr> Sorry for sounds dumb but what is a barbox and a big table. <hr /></blockquote>

Ok, No offense intended at all here, but hire a manager that is knowlegable about pool, knows how to run tournaments, has a good business background, and understands the importance of customer service.
I happen to know a BCA instructor that might be interested in the job. We can talk! /ccboard/images/graemlins/wink.gif

9 Ball Girl
07-29-2004, 07:36 AM
Oh, I just thought of this on my drive to work.

If you don't want to put a kitchen in your room, then maybe you can set up a deal with one of the takeout places that are in the area (that is if there are takeout places). You can do up a little menu, maybe on a chalkboard or something, call the order in to the takeout place and then have it delivered. Or, you can maybe even collect a couple of their menus from different places and have the customer pick. I've been to about 2 poolhalls that do this.

Honestly, though, I prefer having a kitchen in the room. You can always start out with just cold sandwiches/wraps and then maybe start to build up from there. Some rooms have all three meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) but that's advantageous to the room that's open 24 hours a day and always has extreme junkies (like me!) in there til the wee morning hours. Just A Thought.

07-29-2004, 08:19 AM
The place where you now go reminds me of the Yogi Berra saying, "No body ever goes there anymore, the place is too crowded"
Sounds like the place you go now is doing something right.

07-29-2004, 12:30 PM
Okay, the terms are all making sense. I have made a couple of phone calls to people and understand the business more. I have my friend from NYC to help me with the project.
I do need food. Small stuff though. My concern is that the food can not be 10% or more of my revenue. If it is, smoking is not allowed in Florida. I will tell you this, place that had food and smoking was busy until the law banned smoking in restaurants. Many bars stop serving food altogether and just sold alcohol. The ones that remained with food have not done well at all. It seems like everyone in Tampa smokes up a storm. As for the layout, I will have a mix of cloths and yes I am going to get at least one red table.
I have spoke with developers, loan officers, my attorneys, and people that live in the area. They want it but many people are not willing to put the effort into running a bar/billiards.

It will have a cigar lounge and people do want it as well as drinking their martinis. I am not a drinker but I have a family bartender that has been in the business for 20+ years to find the right one.

Pool will be the main attractive but the lounge will be for people to get out and not necessarily deal with the pool crowd.

As for the pool hall that I go to, its grimey, a lot of trouble makers, and cops frequent the place often on the weekends. Many people who love the game, stopped playing their because of the environment and driver over an hour to play elsewhere….. With my place, they would be five minutes away.

I spoke with a business owner who has a tanning salon right next to the place of business I would like to be. He has done very well and the place is booming. I spoke with the blondies (no pun intented) next door and said there is nothing to do at night here…

The place does not need to be opened before 6:00 P.M. during the week. Wasted expenses. I already have an excellent staff to work with and have the knowledge of the game.

I will have a bathroom attended taking care of customers but he actually a security guard to make sure things are straight outside the public floor and no one is sniffing drugs or selling.

Also as my offer to this board, and I will let it be know to everyone here on the board. If anyone comes to the Tampa Area during the opening free pool, free drinks, and free finger food and I am not kidding on this one.

The name

The Ashy Cue Billiards Club

Is the name catchy…

Thanks again to all….

07-29-2004, 02:08 PM
Are you anywhere near Planet 9-ball?

07-29-2004, 08:51 PM
Planet Nine Ball is about 1 15 mins away from the place where I would like to do. Do you play there often, if you, again free pool and drinks for you on opening night...

I spoke with a Diamond dealer for tables, and whole cow are there tables expensiveeeee....... I live in FL and they are in IN, shipping and install will kill me.

Has anyone delt with with Craftmaster Billiard tables. They are located in Tampa and have been in business for 35 years. The tables are solid and excellent quality. Its a three piece slate system but I could not feel the groves at all. My friend tells me the table is smooth and quick. Lifetime on the rails and the table. If I have a problem the place is 15 minutes to get a repair done. Tables are sweet!! Diamond had a nice bar box, but for that much money its not worth it, I would put more money into my bar.

Two lounges, once on each side of the place... one for smoking, one for non-smoking....

As for balls, should I use the generic balls or should I step up a notch in quality.

As for the cloth, isn't Simons a thin fast cloth, I feel that it would not last long in a commerical setting.
As for sticks, I will get 100 free Sneaky Pete 2-peice cues, in which I would glue in the middle.... Not to bad of a deal.

What do you think...


07-29-2004, 10:06 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Fik101:</font><hr>As for balls, should I use the generic balls or should I step up a notch in quality.

As for the cloth, isn't Simons a thin fast cloth, I feel that it would not last long in a commerical setting.
As for sticks,<hr /></blockquote>Simonis will definitely outlast the regular "bar felt type" cloth that most manufacturers will install by default. By a factor of about 2-1 if you take care of it. I would not even consider anything else if I was going to try to attract serious players. If you must cut corners on the cloth, do it on the barboxes only.

The same goes for the balls. Get Centennials or Aramith Pro balls, at least on the good tables. I would also suggest a ball cleaner, like the one Bludworth sells. Cheap balls will scuff up really fast, and look like hell, cling and throw like crazy.


07-29-2004, 11:35 PM
Thats for sure and a ball cleaner is a must. Used every day for each table. Let them balls get dirty and they go to pot quick especially the cheap ones.

07-30-2004, 06:55 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Fik101:</font><hr>
Has anyone delt with with Craftmaster Billiard tables. They are located in Tampa...

<font color="blue">There's a company in Tampa called Robertson's that makes really nice tables. I don't think they have a website but they should be easy for you to find. </font color>

As for sticks, I will get 100 free Sneaky Pete 2-peice cues, in which I would glue in the middle.... ..

<font color="blue"> If you're just going to glue them why don't you get one-piece cues? They play better and are cheaper. </font color> <hr /></blockquote>

07-30-2004, 08:24 AM
If you get it open ill come an pack it out for you just ask me for my resemea

07-30-2004, 02:43 PM
For the sticks, I am getting 100 "FREE" out the deal. Can't get any more cheaper than that....

The deal is almost done. Time to quit my day job very soon..
YAAAAA!!!! /ccboard/images/graemlins/laugh.gif

07-30-2004, 04:26 PM
Can I ask you a question in all honesty, Have you ever operated a business and met a payroll? Also, why do you want to be in the pool room / bar business? It can be a very difficult and problematic business at best. There is lot more to consider besides you are getting 100 free cues. In fact before you glue them together and make them worth nothing, you would be better off selling them, it would more then pay for some decent house cues and you would come out ahead. Have you found an insurance company yet that will issue a liability policy on a pool room/bar? Just out of curiosity what rate did they quote you?

07-30-2004, 05:08 PM
This would be at the top of my list. How the lease is written, you should get advice from an Attorney. Insurance on a bar gets expensive and it's limited to fewer companies. The corporation no doubt dictates how much coverage you'll have to carry in the lease.


07-30-2004, 05:18 PM
Sorry, but compared to the risks you or your investors are taking, I wouldn't get too excited about the 100 free chinese cues - the wholesale on them is about $5 each and they'll be warped in six months.


07-30-2004, 05:26 PM
I don't know what it is like now, but a guy I knew who had no money wanted to open a pool room and he tried to borrow money. The best they offered him was 50% of what would be the used value of the equipment. Something like $6000. The handicapped bathrooms alone were going to cost almost $10,000. Needless to say the pipe dream faded. You can have problems beyond any thing you can dream up. I knew a guy who bought a room and planed to put in a bar. He checked and there would be no problem with zoning or anything so he made the deal. When they got started doing the work they found out the realities. He would lose the grandfathered status and have to bring everything up to date. First the bathrooms were going to cost a fortune. They were no even big enough and would have to be enlarged either out the back of the building or into the room. Either way it was going to be like $15,000. Then he needed a thing called a "Grease trap" in his sewer system. Because he was on a main street it would take tearing up the city street and sidewalk to do it. Quote $20,000. To make a long story short it was going to cost over $50,000 to be able to serve food and beverage in the place. He was the same deal coming into the pool room with his calculator and doing all the figures how he was going to get rich in this pool room. I left out the fact that in the lease there was no mention of selling beer or food. The landlord wanted to rewrite the lease at almost twice the rent or he would not permit the change and on top of that only for 5 years because he was not sure what the future of the building was going to be. The guy never checked out any of this before he bought the place. He stayed there starving for the remaining four years on the lease and sold off the equipment.

07-30-2004, 05:47 PM
Loans are hard to get especially if you don't have up front capitol. One has to write out a complete business plan or the banks show you the front door. SBA and SCORE come in handy in that aspect but even then you need capitol to survive. Hoping you make money in 90 days is a pipe dream.

Small business start up failure rate is real high. It all goes back to having a plan, not in your head, on paper.

Yes the handicaped bathrooms are quite the expense and you won't start a new business without them.


07-30-2004, 05:47 PM
It's easier for an individual to obtain an unsecured credit line than it is for a small business to get one. The pool tables as collateral are virtually worthless to a bank. Big Banks are afraid of the bankruptcy laws and legal fees associated with high failure small business corporate loans. They're worried about the FDIC declaring the loan as risky and requiring the bank to guarantee them with their own equity. Smaller banks are more likely to lend. The reality is you're going to have to secure a small business loan with at best a personal guarantee and most likely with note on your house.

Something like this I don't think I would attempt unless I had $100K cash to invest and another $100K in back up credit in case things were'nt panning out and I wanted to give it a stab to keep it going. In other words, I would have to be willing to lose $200,000 to give it a try. It's too hard to service a loan anyway when you're first starting out - so the cash is the way to go. A 12,000 foot space is expensive to rent, light, heat and cool - commercial carpet alone will set you back $20K, and I shudder to see how much the landlord will be suing for if you want to get out of the lease after the first year.

I think the best way to do it would be for a going business to invest in this sort of venture. That way, if you lose money you can write it off against the profitable business.

If you personally lose the money you just take a big old hit.


07-30-2004, 05:54 PM
Yep, not only that but 100 is somewhat of a light number. When you consider they go through a cycle of needing tips, repair etc. You can count on it, if there cheap it's worst.


08-07-2004, 06:32 PM
http://www.cfltap.com/magicpocket/pics/DSCN0747.JPG /ccboard/images/graemlins/laugh.gif

08-07-2004, 06:54 PM
Now that's my idea of a crappy room. Tables all jammed together and no place to sit. Not to mention the red cloth. (did I just mention that?)

08-07-2004, 08:41 PM
Yep about 1 less table per row I'd imagine. Outside of the red cloth sucks it's bland in there, no atmosphere.

Chris Cass
08-08-2004, 12:14 AM
I also would make my own ball cleaner. It's not that hard and way cheaper. Some table guys could do something like that and alls you really need ia a Washer motor, a 15 min timer switch, some pieces of shag carpet or burber, a table saw and a jig saw and some wood.



9 Ball Girl
08-08-2004, 07:38 AM
That picture reminds me of the makeshift sleeping area that was created at the Holiday Inn during Hurricane Isabel last year. They had filled one of the ballrooms with cots for people from town that had no electricity. I really hate that red cloth. Yuck.

08-08-2004, 08:49 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote highsea:</font><hr> Now that's my idea of a crappy room. Tables all jammed together and no place to sit. Not to mention the red cloth. (did I just mention that?)
-CM <hr /></blockquote>

And room owners complain when their customers lean and sit on their equipment..