Newberg, Oregon
Featured in the February 2005 Issue

Jimmy G BACK At His Pool Hall In Newberg, OR

By: Don “Cheese” Akerlow
If you’ve wondered what happened to Jimmy G, HE’S BACK! I found him at his old stomping grounds Jimmy G’s Billiards and he’s bringing new life into the pool hall.

Jimmy’s got great plans for the place. He’s doing a little remodeling and plans on adding more bar boxes to accompany the three he already has there. Playing video games, air hockey and the new stereo system with 150,000 songs to choose from are some of the other things to do while in Jimmy G’s.

The pool hall is half smoking and half non-smoking which makes it nice for the families. Jimmy plans on doing a lot of advertising and revive the pool hall as a place to bring the whole family and have some fun.

Jimmy G’s pet project “Shoot Pool Not Drugs” will be revived. I asked Jimmy about the program, “When I opened in ’92, I mentioned to one of my customers that I wanted to work with kids and he said, ‘Why don’t you come up with a name, Shoot Pool Not Drugs.’ So that’s what we did. The name wasn’t my original idea, it was Mark Schwartzenoff’s”, Jimmy commented. “Every year I had a “Shoot Pool Not Drugs” Day where I had five police officers here playing pool with the kids for eight hours. I gave away free pizza, free pool and free soda and a free “Shoot Pool Not Drugs” T-shirt. This program had involvement from the DARE program who also provided free DARE T-shirts for the kids. “Every hour and a half DARE and the police department did demonstrations on the evils of drugs. The pool matches with the police officers let the kids see that cops are normal people”, quipped Jimmy. “The very first “Shoot Pool Not Drugs” Day had about 120 people turn out – after eight years the last “Shoot Pool Not Drugs” Day had close to 1,000 people! There were students from seven schools in Yamhill County and kids came from as far away as Portland. Every year I’d bring a tank up from Salem and had a banner ‘Win the War on Drugs’ and ‘Jimmy G’s War on Drugs’.”

This is Jimmy G’s ‘War on Drugs’. He commented that he was raised around alcoholics and in his own family his boys got into drugs. “I just hate the things. I love working with kids. If I work with ten of them I’d be lucky if one of them ‘saw the light’.”

I asked Jimmy how he came to open his pool hall and he replied, “Before I got into the pool hall I had about 102 careers! Seriously, everything I did was in sales and motivation. I’m a very positive thinker. I came into town 15 years ago and opened a carpet store in McMinnville. I had a falling out with my partner, whose wife was into drugs, and that ended. I used to go into Sammy’s Billiards on First Street in Newberg. After Sammy passed away, I mentioned to the new owner of six months, that I wanted to buy the place. He said that he didn’t want to sell but I told him ‘Everybody wants to sell if they have the right price.’ So I offered him $85,000! He sold that night.” Jimmy stayed in that location for about a year until the building burned down! He then found his present location (611 East First Street) and opened with only three pool tables. Positioning the tables lengthwise he promoted the pool hall as having “lots of space around the tables.” Every three or four months he bought another table.

One thing you notice when you’re in Jimmy G’s is his wall of photos. His photos include famous friends and there’s a story that goes with each one. The pool hall has hosted shows by top professionals like Earl Strickland and Mike Massey. Jimmy has been a great supporter of the Reno Open and has sponsored such noted players as Tom Rossi, Scott Menard and Glenn Atwell. Every year Jimmy would go to Reno for the Open and hold a party in one of the suites at the Sands for all the pool players and people from the hotel. This was Jimmy’s pattern for 9 years. Amazingly Jimmy G’s Billiards sponsored twenty-eight players in the Reno Open in 1995. “I had twenty-eight players out of my pool hall, can you imagine that? More than any place in the United States. If you get two or three people out of the same pool hall, it’s pretty amazing, but I had twenty-eight!” Jimmy said proudly.

As we ended our conversation, Jimmy mentioned, “Annie, my wife, and I have thirty-two APA players coming in tonight (four teams). Annie’s making a Cajun Sandwich. She’s a gourmet cook, so the players are in for a treat! Once a week Annie will be making something different. Our menu is basically pizza, soft drinks, hot dogs and corn dogs. I’m known for burning everything! So if a customer asks for burnt sausage or a burnt hot dot, I accommodate every time!”

I asked Jimmy about the league players and he said, “I’m going to go for all leagues in the next six months. All league operators can contact me at Jimmy G’s (503) 538-4368. I really want to get things back on track.”

So if you haven’t seen Jimmy in awhile or if you’re just curious what Jimmy G’s Billiards is all about, stop in Newberg, Oregon, go in, shoot some pool and welcome Jimmy back.

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