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SKennedy
04-04-2008, 12:23 PM
I guess most of us have thought about opening and owning a pool hall, and I'm one of them. Lately though it has more appeal to me and is something I've been thinking more about. The town where I live, Tyler, Tx, now has a population of about 100,000, and the county has over 200,000. There are 3 decent-sized pool halls within the city limits. One is a Click's Billiards. The other 2 are privately owned and smaller. The smallest has been open for about 2 years and I know they had a rough go the first year or so. They started out not selling alcohol, but had to relent and applied for a license to sell. Since then, their business has picked up, but they have 7 ft tables with very tight pockets that frustrate most players and I'm sure their margin is pretty slim.
So, why am I considering opening my own? The city has enacted a no smoking ordinance that will be effective June 1st. There is also a new loop just constructed on the south side of town...and most of the new growth is to the south. Two weeks ago we played league play in a very small bar/pizza place that had 3 barbox tables. The place was absolutely packed on a Tuesday night....and not because of the 2 teams playing the match. We were in everyone's way! This place is outside the city limits south of town and outside the new loop. I'm thinking a really nice pool hall outside the city limits and outside the new loop south of town would be great! People could smoke, we would serve alcohol, have a really good air exchange/purifier system, quality tables (15 8fters and maybe a couple of 9 ft and 1 snooker?), etc.
There is a guy here in town that has an italian food/pizza place that does a fantastic business but his place is too small. He is looking at building a place south of town and I was thinking about doing a joint venture with him. We could locate in the same large new building and be next door to each other.
On the other hand, I'm approaching mid-50's and my wife and I are both gainfully employed earning nice incomes...and I do enjoy my job. Some of you now own, or have owned your own pool halls. I would like your opinions. Am I being stupid to even consider this? Should I just give the idea to someone else and let them do it and take all the risks..and potential money?
My heart would like to own and run a pool hall, but my head tells me I'm just being stupid. And, not sure I want all the headaches, paperwork, and hassle of hiring waitresses, bar tenders, etc. Maybe I just should have me a nice and private game room and upgrade my table..or get 2 good tables...and just keep my day job. You guys that have "been there and done that"...I need some advice!

bsmutz
04-04-2008, 03:47 PM
I've never owned a pool hall, but I have owned my own business. Most people will tell you that working for yourself is the most rewarding work you will ever have. Most will also concur that you will work harder for yourself than you ever did for someone else. I also worked retail (managed a couple of stores) and for me, the biggest drawback was the lost personal time. You have to be willing to work long hours and most every day. You can't just up and take a vacation when you want. You can't take a day off because you're sick. Your customers count on you being there when you say you will and in reality, you have to spend more time there than just the hours you are open. If you can find good help, great, but don't count on it unless you have a couple of dependable relatives. If your wife isn't into the pool hall business, even with a rock-solid marriage you can expect the time you will spend to cause some strife.

Bottom line is it can be very rewarding from a personal satisfaction viewpoint as long as you understand and are willing to accept the commitment you'll have to make to yourself, your family, & your customers and the inevitable conflict that will come from that commitment.

sack316
04-04-2008, 11:45 PM
Ah, been a while since I've visited this side of the forum... got some catching up to do.

As you may recall, I worked at and managed a poolhall around here for several years. And it was probably the most fun I'll ever have in my life... but I'll tell you seeing all the stuff that goes into it from a "running a business" standpoint really put a damper on my dreams of one day owning one. It's still something I'd love to do, don't get me wrong... but it darn sure wasn't all the fun and games I always pictured in my head. I'll try to be fairly brief and just gove the quick rundown from the stuff you were mentioning:

1) Glad you are planning on going smoking. One place around here tried the non smoking thing (we don't have an ordinance...yet) and it wasn't as bad as we thought it would be, but nevertheless they went back to a smoking room fairly quick. I guess when over half the place is standing outside all night, it's not that good. One thing I will note... I have yet to see an air filtration system that works well enough. Some work better than others, but none have done a great job. And they are expensive as all get out. I definitely suggest getting one, but you may not wanna sink a large amount in a fancy one that won't do a whole lot better than a middle of the line one.

2) It seems you do realize a liquor license is a must. You won't make anything on pool. Scratch that, you will lose money on pool tables. What you have to charge on pool to get people in there will never cover the cost and upkeep of having decent tables. Just an unfortunate fact of life right now. I definitely suggest having great promotions and cheap table time to attract people into the place (i.e. free pool for ladies some nights, military nights, APA/BCA/whatever nights, etc.) and make up the difference by charging a quarter more for beer, liquor, and food (quarter is just a number I'm throwing out there, you'd have to crunch some numbers to really find the break even to profit points).

3) Being on the outskirts, I'm not sure what the area is like. But you really must be aware of the crowd that would likely populate the place. I'll keep this P.C. for the sake of the forum, but I think you understand to be aware of who is gonna be your patrons, what their behavior will be like, and whether or not it's worth it to invest in the finest of tables, glasses, etc. or if you better go with plastic on everything.

4) DO NOT... I'll say it again... DO NOT go into this with a plan of creating a place to cater to serious pool players. Unless of course you are well off and just wanted to do that, but you won't make money that way. First, the "players" are there to play pool and gamble, which I already mentioned won't make you a dime. Second, the majority of that crowd won't spend much (if any) money on other things while there. They are there to try to make money themselves, and unfortunately spending their own money isn't usually a part of that. We had a place try that once, and it wasn't long before they were throwing every novelty idea under the sun out there to try to bring in the drinking and party crowd before they went broke. Now this section does not apply to local leagues... as I'm sure you are aware supporting a league and hosting teams is a great way to bring in business on slower nights, they are generally a good crowd, and you open yourself up to hosting tournaments and things like that which will bring in extra business.

5) overall, it is a headache... but the most fun and rewarding headache you'd ever have IF, and ONLY IF, it's something you love and really want. Someone just wanting to open a small business would be an idiot to open a poolhall. But someone that loves the game, the people, and the atmosphere would likely find it to be one of those things they think to themselves "why didn't I do this earlier?"

6) Sack misses the biz, and would be happy to come run the place for you... taking away the headache of hiring staff and day to day business /forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/smile.gif OK, I put a smiley face, but I'm serious!

I'm sure I missed some points (I'm tired), and if I think of others I'll add them or PM them to you. And you may also feel free to message me with any specific questions you may have. There isn't much about the experience that I don't know about inside and out... from operating to promoting to paying bills to P&L statements and accounting... I did it all basically and would be happy to contribute in any way I can in helping you with your thought process on this.

Sack

Bambu
04-05-2008, 08:06 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: SKennedy</div><div class="ubbcode-body">I guess most of us have thought about opening and owning a pool hall, and I'm one of them. Lately though it has more appeal to me and is something I've been thinking more about. The town where I live, Tyler, Tx, now has a population of about 100,000, and the county has over 200,000. There are 3 decent-sized pool halls within the city limits. One is a Click's Billiards. The other 2 are privately owned and smaller. The smallest has been open for about 2 years and I know they had a rough go the first year or so. They started out not selling alcohol, but had to relent and applied for a license to sell. Since then, their business has picked up, but they have 7 ft tables with very tight pockets that frustrate most players and I'm sure their margin is pretty slim.
So, why am I considering opening my own? The city has enacted a no smoking ordinance that will be effective June 1st. There is also a new loop just constructed on the south side of town...and most of the new growth is to the south. Two weeks ago we played league play in a very small bar/pizza place that had 3 barbox tables. The place was absolutely packed on a Tuesday night....and not because of the 2 teams playing the match. We were in everyone's way! This place is outside the city limits south of town and outside the new loop. I'm thinking a really nice pool hall outside the city limits and outside the new loop south of town would be great! People could smoke, we would serve alcohol, have a really good air exchange/purifier system, quality tables (15 8fters and maybe a couple of 9 ft and 1 snooker?), etc.
There is a guy here in town that has an italian food/pizza place that does a fantastic business but his place is too small. He is looking at building a place south of town and I was thinking about doing a joint venture with him. We could locate in the same large new building and be next door to each other.
On the other hand, I'm approaching mid-50's and my wife and I are both gainfully employed earning nice incomes...and I do enjoy my job. Some of you now own, or have owned your own pool halls. I would like your opinions. Am I being stupid to even consider this? Should I just give the idea to someone else and let them do it and take all the risks..and potential money?
My heart would like to own and run a pool hall, but my head tells me I'm just being stupid. And, not sure I want all the headaches, paperwork, and hassle of hiring waitresses, bar tenders, etc. Maybe I just should have me a nice and private game room and upgrade my table..or get 2 good tables...and just keep my day job. You guys that have "been there and done that"...I need some advice!</div></div>

Good luck Kennedy. I have been considering a similar venture for a long time now. I have my own home gameroom, but its just not the same. I miss the atmosphere, the late nights, the gambling, and everything else exciting that comes with a pool room. Provided you need a partner, your idea of combining with a food based person sounds like a good plan.
As a business opportunity, I understand there are better investments, but I wont be doing this to get rich. I have done quite a bit of research on this, but I dont think you need me to tell you its best to buy or build your own building. When it comes to my own business, I dont plan on being at someone elses mercy.
The main problem I face is where to put it, and knowing how big a city I need to put it in. With the help of sperlings best places and google business, I am able to figure out how many pool rooms are in every US city, and how big that city is. I cannot afford anything commercial in new york city, so I am still looking for a good spot somewhere else, probably somewhere in upstate NY. Anyway, good luck. Something tells me you will need it(not that I wont)!

Treehumper
04-06-2008, 09:54 PM
Be very careful of building your own building. You are then tying up quite a bit of capital. If you can buy a building cheap then great. Do your market research exhaustively to determine the market in any given area. What brings them out and when. right down to which side of the street has more traffic. There is a difference! Will you be a destination or an impulse choice? I spoke at length to 3 brothers who started a very successful restaurant/billiards place and it was the amount of research they did that ensured their success. Wood-burning pizza ovens a great patio, 12 8 foot tables with glass walls that open up in the summer to the patio.

When considering a business concept work it to death at the outset. Be conservative and question every assumption. If you put together a good business plan then you'll have an easier time with lenders and landlords. First and foremost you are going into business for yourself. Understand the business model then the pool will be fun! Where you aware of the Black Widows ventures? She may be getting involved in billiard parlours under her brand. That may go along way to helping you get a start.
I would not assume what tables you put in until you've done some research. Are there many snooker players? Would 2-9' tables situated apart in a manner that shows that they are for serious players good for the leagues?


Whatever you do, make sure the food is excellent and same with the drinks.

Good Luck!

SKennedy
04-07-2008, 09:05 AM
Thanks guys for all your excellent input! I'm pretty much at the conception phase right now....and it may or may not progress further. Thanks to all of you and also to those who sent me a PM on the subject. I appreciate your time.
I think my concept is sound, but need to decide if this is right for me. I enjoy my time off and not worrying about things....
And yes, I certainly need to develop a business plan, etc.
Again, you guys have all given me great advice and I have much to consider.

AnitoKid
04-07-2008, 08:45 PM
I think our friends have said it all! I wish you the best and GOOD LUCK, buddy!

/forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/smile.gif

wolfdancer
04-08-2008, 08:32 AM
1) Glad you are planning on going smoking.
I'm glad I'm not.......

SKennedy
04-08-2008, 08:45 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: wolfdancer</div><div class="ubbcode-body">1) Glad you are planning on going smoking.
I'm glad I'm not.......
</div></div>

As you may remember as I've stated it several times on here...I guit smoking about 1 year ago. On league night I leave the pool hall reeking of cigarettes! Sometimes, when I feel a strong urge to smoke I will light up a cigar. Our fair city has a smoking ban that goes into effect June 1st, and while I am opposed to the government tellling an individual business owner what he can and can't do (up to a point...and yes I know we have debated that issue on here already), I will admit that it will be nice after June 1st to not go home smelling like old stale cigarette smoke.

By the way....I would have 2 well-separated units...one for smoking and one non-smoking. Each would have their own air system and the smoking section would have a huge air exchange/turnover rate for bringing in fresh air, etc. Or, that's what I would ideally have........

Bambu
04-08-2008, 09:46 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Treehumper</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Be very careful of building your own building. You are then tying up quite a bit of capital. If you can buy a building cheap then great. Do your market research exhaustively to determine the market in any given area. What brings them out and when. right down to which side of the street has more traffic. There is a difference! Will you be a destination or an impulse choice? I spoke at length to 3 brothers who started a very successful restaurant/billiards place and it was the amount of research they did that ensured their success. Wood-burning pizza ovens a great patio, 12 8 foot tables with glass walls that open up in the summer to the patio.

When considering a business concept work it to death at the outset. Be conservative and question every assumption. If you put together a good business plan then you'll have an easier time with lenders and landlords. First and foremost you are going into business for yourself. Understand the business model then the pool will be fun! Where you aware of the Black Widows ventures? She may be getting involved in billiard parlours under her brand. That may go along way to helping you get a start.
I would not assume what tables you put in until you've done some research. Are there many snooker players? Would 2-9' tables situated apart in a manner that shows that they are for serious players good for the leagues?


Whatever you do, make sure the food is excellent and same with the drinks.

Good Luck!

</div></div>

Thanks humper, thats all sound advice. I am undecided on my exact theme, business plan, etc. I have a few ideas on paper, but the final decisions will depend greatly on which piece of property I decide to invest in. So far I am only considering my options.
I didnt know about jeanette being involved in any business ventures, something to consider. I actually managed to win a match against her about 15 years ago, though I doubt she would remember me.

SKennedy
04-08-2008, 10:16 AM
Hey Bambu,
Saw the photo of your gameroom. Wife and I are considering a different house and I told her last night I want a new gameroom and want to upgrade the pool table, etc. Her reply was that maybe we should buy a townhouse or condo since I was too busy playing pool, etc. to do much of anything else like upkeep on property! Ouch!! My reply...."maybe I'll keep the old table too and that way I can hold mini-tournamants at the house on 2 tables."

caedos
04-08-2008, 12:20 PM
Combining those two concepts is pretty much what created Dave & Buster's Restaurants, Inc.

From a restaurant and an entertainment business sharing each others customers, to a chain most people know. Once the two combined, the pool took a backseat to the other games and the restaurant. Now the pool (they are required to call it billiards or pocket-billiards) is more useful as a distraction for business parties, who also use the covered tables for dining tables.

Dave Corriveau and Buster Corley worked tons of hours with tons of headaches, "made it", and sold the company over a year ago. I don't know how many wives and girlfriends they went through;) but I believe they found it to be one of the most rewarding things of their lives.

Good luck if you put on that harness!


Carl

sack316
04-08-2008, 12:28 PM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: wolfdancer</div><div class="ubbcode-body">1) Glad you are planning on going smoking.
I'm glad I'm not.......
</div></div>

I understand both sides of the fence here. I do smoke, but personally I'm OK either way a business goes... it's not too much trouble for me to step outside.

But from what I have personally seen (and granted this may just be my area) a smoking room is the preferred way to go. Of course non smokers appreciate a non smoking establishment... but at the same time I cannot tell you how many times I heard the phrase "It's a poolhall, there's supposed to be smoke" from smokers and the non alike.

My main concern for the purposes of this thread with that comment was how many of the customers wind up outside. It's a poolhall, it's a bar, and a strong percentage of patrons will be smokers in all likelyhood. If there is a nearby place they can smoke inside, they will choose to go there (they meaning the casual shooters who are out to drink and party and socialize). If they are outside, they are not inside spending money. If there is a large crowd huddled around the front door, it's not very inviting to the cars driving by. Plus I'm not sure of the law in that area, but depending you open yourself up to violations with containers leaving the premises, etc.

I think the idea of having seperated areas is a nice compromise, and hopefully the efforts shown to keep each side happy would be appreciated.

Sack

eb_in_nc
04-08-2008, 12:53 PM
I play in two different leagues at two different locations. One of them is a smokeless league. To be honest, I like both of them for the diversity of people that play at these two different locations (it seems the smokeless location seems to draw more white collar people as compared to the other location; sorry for my generalization here and not trying to establish a correlation between smoking and blue collar people, just my observation). I personally have quit smoking many years ago and honestly hate how I smell when I get home (forget about what my lungs are thinking), but I still will continue to participate in this league as I also believe that it is a pool hall and that's what pool halls are all about, I just could not take it two nights a week. My biggest beef with the smoke filled hall is that the air circulation system just cannot take care of exchanging all of the air efficiently where both the smoker and non smoker can enjoy the "ambiance" sans the smoke. There is forever a purple haze lingering above the table lights. The best of both worlds would be to put pressure on the league operators to upgrade their air circulation systems such that all of us can enjoy the experience without having to legislate restrictive change.

Bambu
04-08-2008, 06:28 PM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: SKennedy</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Hey Bambu,
Saw the photo of your gameroom. Wife and I are considering a different house and I told her last night I want a new gameroom and want to upgrade the pool table, etc. Her reply was that maybe we should buy a townhouse or condo since I was too busy playing pool, etc. to do much of anything else like upkeep on property! Ouch!! My reply...."maybe I'll keep the old table too and that way I can hold mini-tournamants at the house on 2 tables."</div></div>

Lol Kennedy. Some wives just dont understand! After 7 years of having our own table, my wife is still trying to figure out what colors the balls are. She asks what ball to shoot, I say the 2 ball. She says the blue one? I say yes, its hanging. So she proceeds to shoot the 10 ball instead(a long distance bank). Then I am the bad guy for raising an eyebrow. I think the best part about having your own gameroom is being able to walk outta the house when you need to!

SKennedy
04-09-2008, 03:55 PM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Bambu</div><div class="ubbcode-body"><div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: SKennedy</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Hey Bambu,
Saw the photo of your gameroom. Wife and I are considering a different house and I told her last night I want a new gameroom and want to upgrade the pool table, etc. Her reply was that maybe we should buy a townhouse or condo since I was too busy playing pool, etc. to do much of anything else like upkeep on property! Ouch!! My reply...."maybe I'll keep the old table too and that way I can hold mini-tournamants at the house on 2 tables."</div></div>

Lol Kennedy. Some wives just dont understand! After 7 years of having our own table, my wife is still trying to figure out what colors the balls are. She asks what ball to shoot, I say the 2 ball. She says the blue one? I say yes, its hanging. So she proceeds to shoot the 10 ball instead(a long distance bank). Then I am the bad guy for raising an eyebrow. I think the best part about having your own gameroom is being able to walk outta the house when you need to! </div></div>

When I set up my current table my wife had a fit the way I had it oriented in the room. She insisted I change it so as not to interefere with "traffic." I explained to her about the need for plenty of room, etc., but to no avail. It is too close to a book shelf in one area, and a step is in the way in one corner. The table has been set up this way now for at least 15 years and I fussed about it a few days ago and she said, "Why don't you move the table and put it where you want it!" What? You tell me this after 15 years? I think she's wants me to stay home to play and spend less money.....so, I haven't moved the table and still leave the house to play pool.

Treehumper
04-10-2008, 05:27 AM
My wife and I are planning the remodelling of the basement to accommodate an 8' table. I want to replace a bearing wall with a beam to give us the extra room around the table, she wants to keep it so we have a big work room. HMMMMMMM.......

Working on her slowly.

Bambu
04-11-2008, 10:44 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: SKennedy</div><div class="ubbcode-body"><div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Bambu</div><div class="ubbcode-body"><div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: SKennedy</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Hey Bambu,
Saw the photo of your gameroom. Wife and I are considering a different house and I told her last night I want a new gameroom and want to upgrade the pool table, etc. Her reply was that maybe we should buy a townhouse or condo since I was too busy playing pool, etc. to do much of anything else like upkeep on property! Ouch!! My reply...."maybe I'll keep the old table too and that way I can hold mini-tournamants at the house on 2 tables."</div></div>

Lol Kennedy. Some wives just dont understand! After 7 years of having our own table, my wife is still trying to figure out what colors the balls are. She asks what ball to shoot, I say the 2 ball. She says the blue one? I say yes, its hanging. So she proceeds to shoot the 10 ball instead(a long distance bank). Then I am the bad guy for raising an eyebrow. I think the best part about having your own gameroom is being able to walk outta the house when you need to! </div></div>

When I set up my current table my wife had a fit the way I had it oriented in the room. She insisted I change it so as not to interefere with "traffic." I explained to her about the need for plenty of room, etc., but to no avail. It is too close to a book shelf in one area, and a step is in the way in one corner. The table has been set up this way now for at least 15 years and I fussed about it a few days ago and she said, "Why don't you move the table and put it where you want it!" What? You tell me this after 15 years? I think she's wants me to stay home to play and spend less money.....so, I haven't moved the table and still leave the house to play pool.
</div></div>

After 15 years, wow. Better late than never I guess, hah. I dont play at the pool room much myself anymore. Not because she complains, I am just too cheap!