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Jon Knutson, Published August 25 2009

Fargo business combines billiards, fine dining

Nobody will ever accuse Mike Page of thinking small.

He’s opened Fargo Billiards and Gastropub in south Fargo. Gastropub is a British term for a restaurant serving high-quality food.

The Fargo business, which has 55 employees, offers 58 pool tables (both 7- and 9-foot), 28,500 square feet of enclosed space, a 3,000-square-foot raised lounge, a full-service restaurant, a coffee bar, a pro shop, instructional courses and three private rooms for corporate events/get-togethers, among other things.

Page put the project’s price tag at $3.7 million.

“We knew that to do this right, we need to be big,” said Page, a former professor in the North Dakota State University chemistry department.

Pool often is associated with bars offering one or two tables, where customers watch skilled players.

Fargo Billiards and Gastropub wants to get past that stereotype, Page said.

“One of the great things about this game is that it can appeal to many demographics,” he said.

A key to Page’s plans is attracting people with little or no experience in pool.

Rental rates for tables vary depending on location and time of day, but many tables cost $3.50 to $4.25 per person per hour.

Particularly important to the new business is attracting players for organized league play, similar to what’s done with bowling or darts, Page said.

There will be a women-only pool league at Fargo Billiards and Gastropub.

“This is a place where you can feel comfortable even if you aren’t experienced playing,” he said.

Fargo Billiards and Gastropub also will offer tournaments suitable for new or inexperienced players. The business won’t play loud music that annoys or distracts patrons, he said. Alcohol may be consumed by adults anywhere in the building and is served everywhere except for the two pool-table sections where underage players are permitted.

Randy Johnson of Detroit Lakes, Minn., recently played pool at Fargo Billiards and Gastropub.

“I think this is great. It’s a very nice place to play,” he said.

The Fargo business is close to Interstates 29 and 94, which will help people reach it, said Page, who serves as owner-operator.

Rory Hendrickson is general manager/house pro.

Page said he is confident Fargo Billiards and Gastropub will gain broad support.

“A lot of people can enjoy this, and you can do it for a lifetime,” he said.

Fargo Billiards and Gastropub

Readers can reach Forum reporter Jonathan Knutson at (701) 241-5530