By LAURA QUEZADA News Review Staff Writer–
Ridgecrest’s newest family-friendly entertainment venue, Billiards, is hosting its first tournament on Saturday, August 13 with sign-ups open until August 7. The Miscellaneous Items Store is sponsoring the event and providing the prizes: First place wins $250 store credit, second place wins $150 store credit and third place wins $100 in store credit. The entry fee is only $15 per person which includes raffle tickets for Billiards clothing.
Eight Ball is the game for the tournament. For those unfamiliar, 15 balls are racked in a triangle. There are seven striped and seven solid balls plus a black eight ball. The object is to clear the table of all of your balls and then hit the eight ball into the pocket. “You don’t want to hit the eight ball before you clear all your balls,” says Andy Robles, owner of Billiards. “That’s an automatic loss. However, if you break and you make the eight ball in on the break, that is an automatic win. If you scratch (dunk) the cue ball when you’re going for the eight ball, that is a loss.”
The tournament will have several rounds with four games going at a time. The first round begins at 12:30 pm and the rounds continue about every half hour. Those who lose their first round get another chance to play for third place. “After the first wave, whoever loses again, will be eliminated. That’ll keep going until eventually, you get to the final two players, who are playing for first and second place,” says Robles. He hopes to be finished with the tournament by about 5:30 pm so they can open up to the community until 11 pm for Saturday night fun.
Robles moved to Ridgecrest in time to start high school at Burroughs. “Pretty much as soon as I got here, the first thing I would hear anybody talking about was ‘There’s nothing to do here; it’s boring.’” He wanted to do something about that sentiment. “What we’re trying to create here is something that everybody can enjoy. I would say that’s our unofficial motto, ‘A place for everyone to enjoy.’ Little by little we want to be expanding and eventually have something that you can compare to the big city miniature golf arcades.”
Playing pool is a lifetime pastime. As soon as you are tall enough to reach the table, you are ready to learn to play. Robles has been playing with his family since he was a young kid.
In addition to four pool tables, Billiards offers several arcade games including The Simpsons, Mortal Kombat, Pac-Man, foosball, air hockey, a dart board and soon will add a Terminator arcade machine with two guns with force feedback. He says, “These games are as popular now as they were when I was a kid playing them.”
He keeps the prices reasonable, $12.00 per hour per table and $6.00 per half hour for arcade games and offers a military discount. The under-21 crowd is really enjoying the availability, he says, “They obviously can’t go into the bars so they told me how relieved they are and they’re really thankful that we opened up so that they can come down here and practice. They don’t have to go somewhere else where they have to drive an hour and a half.”
Robles also offers reasonably priced group rates for private parties of up to 25 people. He tells us, “We are open to doing office parties, friendly get togethers, reunions, or even smaller birthday parties. We are open to renting it out; we have had a lot of people interested in that. I would include all pool tables and access to all the arcade games.
Billiards creates a fun, safe atmosphere where gambling is discouraged. Music fills the air and there are snacks and non-alcoholic beverages available to purchase. Outside food isn’t permitted, but they are in the same business complex as Lugo’s Restaurant and Pure Healing Foods.
The business is Andy’s, but he gives a lot of credit to his family. “You can’t do everything on your own. I’m lucky to have really supportive family who taught me a lot. My brother has his own handyman business. My dad’s been in the restaurant management business. I’ve learned a lot from them about business management; if I ever had a question, they would always help me. I have a good team behind me.”
Billiards is open Monday through Thursday from 2 pm to 10 pm, and Friday through Sunday from noon until 11 pm. Find them at 970 North Norma between Lugos and Pure Healing Foods.
Editors Note: In a town without a community swimming pool, a bowling alley and you need a base pass to play golf, this is a welcome diversion.