Once, the sound of weights and the hum of treadmills filled the 6,500-square-foot facility adjacent to Thirty Pines Square along Burrough Street.
Soon, however, a new sound – the crunch of pool balls crashing together – will join Penacook’s recently expanded entertainment landscape when an Epsom couple discovers Capital City Billiards sometime this winter.
Kathy Miller, an Epsom native whose business partner, Jeff Burnham, is also her life partner, said they hope to open their second local business and third overall sometime in February. They opened Strokers Pool Hall in Pelham five years ago and also owned Tropical Smoothie Cafe on Loudon Road, which opened three years later.
Both establishments are doing well, Miller said, leading up to this latest expansion of their modest business empire.
“We wanted to find a (pool) place in Concord,” Miller said, standing in the empty cavernous space. “We were definitely getting a lot of feedback. Jeff is big in the pool community and he knows a lot of pool players in Concord, and they often come down to Pelham to play. Knowing that they were displaced, we made a decision that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have one closer to us and them.”
Capital City Billiards occupies the spot vacated last summer by All Out Fitness, which, after five years, moved across Burrough Road last June and into Thirty Pines Square.
Capital City Billiards will have 14 new Brunswick tables, each nine feet long, plus darts, a small kitchen and a full bar.
It’s the third establishment in the last two years that aims to improve Penacook’s nightlife. All three are located a few hundred meters away from each other.
Alexandra’s Bistro opened two years ago, replacing Donatello’s Pizza, a longtime local landmark in the village. The restaurant offers fine dining, staying open until 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays.
Then, in the same complex, Kirk McNeil, after a dispute with his landlord, moved his popular Area 23 bar and Concord music venue — once tucked into Route 3 at the right corner of the Smokestack Center — to thirty pines square, located in the sandwich. between a laundromat and the post office.
The Forum Pub will be about a third the size of Area 23, but will still feature live music, on a smaller scale, plus karaoke, trivia nights and, McNeil hopes, a regular crowd.
Bands from all over New England will be invited to play the weekend, with no cover charge, a formula that worked well at Area 23.
The Forum Pub will change the buzz and pace of the area, bringing in more people, more cars and more competition.
“We’re hoping we can add north of the Concord-Penacook stage,” McNeil said recently. “We also hope we can contribute to working with restaurants in the area. We went to great lengths to make sure we had a diverse menu.”
And soon, the combination will be added to 14 new, high-end tables. Miller’s partner, Jeff Burnham, is an experienced pool player.
Asked if he was a good player, Miller said, “He says he’s laughing.”
On a serious note, she credited Burnham for serving as a regional ambassador for pool, trying to spread the word and inject the area with a growing enthusiasm for the sport.
“He’s going to do a lot of pool leagues and a lot of tournaments are planned for the future,” Miller said. “He’s big on promoting women’s pool and trying to get teenagers playing and being part of the pool community. He’s also trying to work with the Boys and Girls Club, so we have a lot planned.”