EDITOR'S NOTE: The print edition of Wednesday, July 22, 2020 said Cue's "opens today," which is contradictory to the online story. The actual opening is set for Thursday, July 23, 2020 at 11 a.m. The Herald regrets the confusion... JM
For decades, Paul Sapp has been around the sport of pool in roles which include salesman, league owner, referee, referee trainer, coach and, of course, player.
“I started out in Nova Scotia in the 1980s and was a big advocate of pool,” Sapp recalls. “I moved out west in 1994 and started and still own the pool league in Vancouver called B.C.EH. I’ve been the Diamond pool table dealer and distributor for 15 years and head referee for Cue Sports International,” he said.
As of April 16, he’s added the title of pool hall owner to his resume as the new operator of Cue’s Game Room, Grill and Pizzeria Inc., located in the 300 block of Main Street.
The hall closed March 17 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but officially reopens Thursday (July 23, 2020) under the new ownership.
Returning patrons will immediately notice new carpeting, a freshly painted interior, lighting, a sound system, furniture, a tournament booth, a lounge area on the stage and the removal of partitioned walls.
Full bar and food service is available, but, for the first little while, food service will be downsized in order to get a feel for what the customers want. The menu hasn’t changed — although they’ve added hotdogs — but some of the recipes and ingredients have been tweaked.
Leagues will include the Monday night traveling league and the Wednesday night in-house league.
Cue’s is presently figuring out a night to host drop-in tournaments plus, in the fall, they hope to offer a Saturday league for youth.
The general public can drop in almost any time and rent a table for $15 or $20 for a nine-foot or snooker table, which is affordable when split two ways.
In total, Cue’s has 12 seven-foot, two nine-foot and a snooker table. It also has an attractive outdoor patio and the public is welcome to come and buy lunch or dinner, even if they’re not playing.
“I like Penticton,” he said when asked why he’s investing in the downtown.
“I already owned the tables — the previous owner was leasing them from me. My wife and I worked on the SS Sicamous from 2003-2005 and we own a house here and spend six months of the year here. Penticton has one of the strongest pool communities, per capita, of anywhere in British Columbia.”
Pool players may remember Sapp from organizing a big tournament previously held for seven years at the Penticton Curling Club.
All pool tables are handicapped accessible. There’s even a set of official rules for wheelchair players.
Opening a business in 2020 means that social distancing must be followed. But, pool has always been one of the safest activities to play against an opponent.
“The inherent strategy is one person at the table at a time and the other player must always stand back. There’s distance between the tables. It’s not a hard fit. We sanitize the balls after every changeover use. With pool, you usually come in with a friend or family member. It’s important for the players to sanitize and wash their hands after each game.”
From a personal standpoint, he well remembers a flu outbreak in Vancouver years ago. All of the players in his league quickly learned the importance of hand washing between each game.
Sapp said the image of the seedy days of pool halls (think of Paul Newman and Jackie Gleason in “The Hustler”) is long in the past. Over time, the stereotype has been broken.
“The days of the gangs and smoke-filled halls are long gone,” he said. “It’s a family sport, kids love it and so much has changed. With television and live streaming, and millions of sponsorship dollars, it has presented a clean image. Some of the top players use cues that cost between $2,000 and $3,000 and there’s now that level of respect.”
Cue’s is open from 11 a.m. to midnight Sundays to Thursdays and from 11 a.m. until 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays at 342 Main Street. For additional information, phone 250-493-5338.