Fargo Billiards & Gastropub
Breaks the Mold
By Samm Diep © August 2009
Photos courtesy of Mike Fieldhammer, BilliardCoach.com
In today’s economic climate, Mike Page has thrown caution to the wind in bringing the country’s newest billiard emporium to Fargo, North Dakota.
Fargo – It’s a small college town in North Dakota with a population of less than 100,000. Fargo may be most widely recognized as the title of the 1996 dark, comedic Coen Brothers film which exaggerates the quirky lives of Midwesterners.
Billiards – Aka pool, cue sports, pocket billiards, encompasses a wide variety of games which involve a pool cue that strikes billiard balls across a cloth covered billiard table with rubber cushions.
Gastropub – This word is a combination of “pub” and “gastronomy.” Gastropubs, most commonly found in the UK, refer to pubs that concentrate on quality food.
Fargo Billiards & Gastropub – A 28,000 square-foot beautifully laid out billiard parlor with 58 of the finest pool tables, three private rooms, a billiard academy, a friendly staff, and fine dining cuisine. For any pool player, it’s pure bliss.
Saturday, August 15, 2009, Fargo Billiards & Gastropub officially opened its doors to the public with a tournament for the local players. Page, a retired NDSU chemistry professor, had a vision to not only open his dream billiard parlor but to break the negative stigmas and stereotypes associated with pool halls. “We want to disarm that part of them that thinks they already know about billiards,” said Page. This mission in part inspired the addition of “Gastropub” to the name. “We want to confuse people about who we’re trying to attract,” said Page who has underwent some scrutiny from the billiard forums for the name. “My mom said ‘it sounds like a disease’,” he added while sharing the story of how a Canadian airline employee was thrilled that a gastropub was coming to Fargo.
Every inch of Fargo Billiards was carefully thought out but before Page could begin with any of the planning, he had some major obstacles to overcome. Page would have to lobby to change the Fargo liquor laws so he could attain an Entertainment License in order to serve alcohol. Even after securing the lot, he would have to bear the adverse climates to come, the wet fall, the excruciatingly cold winter (even for Fargo standards) and the flooding in the spring. These extreme conditions led to a delayed opening date but Page was ready to get started. Having no previous construction experience, Page created all the original building plans in MS Word.
As you come in the front doors, your ears are warmed by the soothing sounds of an eclectic blend of blues, big band, acoustic, folk, and mellow tunes. “He’s been compiling this playlist for years,” said Page’s wife Adele. You will not find a jukebox in this place. “The music is for no particular
demographic,” Page adds. You will also not find your typical sports playing on any of the 31 flat panel TVs throughout the room. Each screen is internet ready for showing tournament brackets, live streaming, or billiard matches. You might find the cooking channel or CNN on before you catch a basketball game there.
When you enter the room, you’re greeted by the ball counter straight ahead. To the right is the Lounge and Gastropub where you can enjoy a gourmet meal, or sit back and indulge in an espresso or latte. The room is deliberately laid out breaking the different groups of tables into cleverly named sections such as, “The Black Tees” for a section with 9-foot Diamond professional tables, “League North” and “League South” for the 20 7-foot Diamond smart tables to be used for league. You can also play on a table in “The Deck,” “The Alley,” or “Diamond West.”
The private rooms are named “Mosconi” for Willie himself, “Fisher” after Allison Fisher, and “Twain” for Mark Twain and his noted obsession with billiards. A private teaching room called the “Fargo Billiard Academy” houses a Diamond table and plenty of seating for a classroom environment. This room will be fully equipped with mirrors and high tech teaching aids. Private lessons and classes will be conducted by Page and House Pro & GM, Rory Hendrickson. The pro shop will be coming soon.
Sticking with the theme of detail and quality, every table was freshly covered with tournament blue Simonis 860. Kevin Knight was brought on board as League Coordinator to handle organizing leagues and tournament events. The entire room is elegantly tied together with a series of billiard paintings by Kim Bromley, an art professor from NDSU, featuring a collection called ‘The Rack.’ These 16 pieces tell a unique story for each of the 15 numbered balls and the cue ball and are just as important to completing the room as the pool tables themselves.
Fargo Billiards is not your average pool hall. Page’s vision for the room came from his years of extensive traveling to over 30 states and visiting numerous pool rooms across the country. He walked away from each experience a little more inspired yet thinking, “If I were to open a pool room, I would…” According to his staff, Page put all his notes to good use. “Mike spared no expense in his vision for this place,” said Food/Beverage Director, Ben Hill.