Very little has changed behind the tinted windows of Sharp’s Billiards in the time since it closed.
The seven pool tables stand beneath the retro-style lamps, and shelves of polished cues line the walls. A bar with a dozen open stools occupies the center of the room, waiting for customers to pull up a chair with pizza and a soda — no beer or cigarettes here.
The Kenai business closed down quietly a few years ago when the former owner, Philip Brower, had to relocate. The pool hall, which had been home to active leagues and causal players alike, closed its doors with all its tables and equipment inside. When Vivian Swanson unlocked it again in early February, it was ready to go.
Swanson, who owns the building and had been leasing the space to the former owner, said the business was turned over fully outfitted. The only thing to do was for someone to open the doors and for the players to come back.
Business was slow at first but has been picking up as word gets out that Sharp’s is open again, she said. Some players have come in with their own cues and played for hours; others drop in to just check it out, she said.
“On Wednesday and Thursday night, I had people in here all night,” Swanson said. “There were some here until I closed. Two guys came by with their own sticks and everything and were just practicing their game for about four hours.”
Swanson said she is figuring it out as she goes. At first, she wasn’t sure what prices to charge for the tables or when to be open. But with little overhead and the tables and building ready to go, it didn’t make much sense to just leave it sitting there, she said.
Sharp’s originally opened in 2008 as an alternative for ardent billiards players to hone their skills outside a bar. The same year, the outfit was named one of the top 10 best-designed new pool halls in the world for its wood paneled interior and regulation-length nine-foot tables. Brower, the former owner, told the Clarion in 2011 that he wanted the business to have a family-friendly atmosphere with no alcohol or smoke.
Swanson said she intends to run the business exactly the same — a cigarette- and alcohol-free place for leagues and casual players alike to shoot some pool.
“Pool can be enjoyed by all people of all ages and capabilities and our family-oriented business provides a great way to have fun at reasonable costs,” Swanson said.
The pool tables are the main attraction, but the business also has electronic dart machines and is outfitted to sell pizza and soda, though Swanson said she wants to see enough people coming in before she fires up the pizza oven. Swanson said she is considering a variety of specials, ranging from a night for veterans to a ladies’ night and a “Teen Day” for parents to bring their kids.
Leagues are a possibility in the future, too, Swanson said. Several community members have been helping her with the basics of understanding the game and how to run the business. Other locals with knowledge about the electronic darts game have offered to help with those as well, she said.
If the leagues do get up and running, Swanson said anyone can participate as part of a team of four. Teams can come sign up as a whole, or individuals can sign up and be paired as teams, she said. A league would require six to eight teams to run.
The only set event for the business at present is a grand opening, scheduled for Sunday. Anyone can come in for an hour of free pool between 12:30-11 p.m., Swanson said.
Sharp’s Billiards is open from 6-11 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. It is located at 11888 Kenai Spur Highway, in the Swanson Square plaza next to Katina’s Greek & Italian Restaurant.
Reach Elizabeth Earl at firstname.lastname@example.org.