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August 03, 1990 - Image 53

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-08-03

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

1 T

ADRIEN CHANDLER

Special to The Jewish News

he description
"upscale pool hall"
may sound a bit
like a contradic-
tion in terms. But
to entrepreneur Don Albaum,
the words fit together like
neatly racked billiard balls,
just waiting for the break. For
Albaum, the green felt of pool
table tops may very well be
the color of money.
Albaum, 47, thinks he has
found and is playing on an
untapped sports business
niche in Detroit — yuppie
billiards. And if business at
Breakers billiard parlor in
Royal Oak, which opened
July 1, is any indication,
Albaum is sure he's cued in-
to something.
"We've been packed in here
every night," he says. "We
purposely picked the summer
to open because it's slow. We
wanted to get our feet wet
first. We can't believe the

WAITIN

Entrepreneur Don Albaum is playing on an
yuppie billiards.
untapped sports business niche

Jim Teegarden takes a break.

business. We're more than
doubling our initial projec-
tions."
Why upscale billiards?
Albaum, who is in the
magazine advertising
business, says he formulated
the idea during a business
trip to New York City. Clients
took him to a similar set-up
there.
Albaum was surprised by
the two-hour wait just to get

in the door. Then, in Chicago,
also while on business,
Albaum visited yet another
billiards parlor. And again, he
was greeted by a huge crowd
and a long wait.
"A light bulb went off in my
head and I said to myself
Aha! Wouldn't this be a
perfect place for Detroit?' "
Albaum's research also
showed that billiards is the
fourth most popular par-
ticipation sport activity in the
country. With that in mind,
he conducted a market survey
to determine the best location
for such a business and settl-
ed on Royal Oak, with its
growing population of young
professionals, and its proximi-
ty to Birmingham and the
new 1-696 expressway.
So, what's all the fuss
about? While pool rooms can

conjure up some unsavory im-
ages, Breakers is anything
but what one might think of
as a pool hall. Albaum and
his two partners wanted to
create a sophisticated air to
draw the kind of clientele
they are seeking — young, ur-
ban, professional — looking
for a new twist on an old
game.
Twenty tables fill the
5,200-square-foot room
located in a strip mall on
Woodward Avenue, just south
of 13 Mile Road. It is done up
in a gay '90s motif with
mahogany colored paneling,
soft lighting and muted
colors.
No expense was spared for
this business venture.
Albaum says they hired a
name architect — Richard
Bos, who designed the Grand

Hotel on Mackinac Island.
Also hired was an interior
designer. In addition, pool

tables were custom made. In
all, start-up costs were close
to $500,000.
Albaum feels strongly they
are on target with the right
game and the right environ-
ment and that the investment
will pay off.
"Pocket billiards is a very
social activity. We need that,"
Albaum. says. "You can ac-
tually talk while you're play-
ing pool. People can come
here, socialize, have a pitcher
of beer!'
Their intent is to make
Breakers a nice place to take
the family or a date. In fact,
says Albaum, 40 percent of
their clientele so far has been
female. They expect that
figure to reach 50 percent.
Unlike some other sports
that require training or a
high level of skill to play,
pocket billiards can be learn-
ed very quickly.
"Anyone can play im-
mediately, of course, in dif-
ferent degrees. You just pick
up a pool stick!'
Albaum and his partners,
Ron Bozzo and John Vaglia,
are elated with their early
success. They've even discuss-
ed expansion or franchising,
but Albaum admits they
have to "walk before they
run!' They don't want to
overextend themselves and
get caught behind the eight
ball. ❑



r

'Kr

"04'r

Like Minnesota Fats, Jim Teegarden points the cue to the pocket.

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

53

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