The space had been a pool hall since the early 1960s. The Kims, who moved to Queens from Korea in the mid-1980s, leased the space in March, paying a security deposit of $49,500, agreeing to monthly rent of $8,250 and buying the security system. What they say they did not know was that the previous owner, who ran the business under the name Rack Em Up, was in the process of having his liquor license revoked, on charges that he had never properly transferred the license from the owner before him.
Drowsy Days at the Billiards Cafe
The Kims applied for a new liquor license of their own but were denied in April — because, said Bill Crowley, a spokesman for the State Liquor Authority, the revocation proceedings against the previous owner were still in progress. The Kims have asked that their request be reconsidered, but now, without beer sales, business is dead. By 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Sunnie Kim said, they had made $31. The monthly electric bill is $1,500.
For a pool hall, a liquor license is not a trivial matter. When people can have a beer while they play, Jason Kim said, they stay longer. “Now, they just come in 30 minutes,” he said. “I understand. They don’t have fun.”
Remembering the Glory Days of Billiards
There was a time, locals say, when you could not walk more than a few blocks on Jamaica Avenue, in Richmond Hill, Queens, without coming across a pool hall. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, devotees at the Hermes Billiards Cafe recalled this week, there were halls at 111th, 102nd, 98th and 90th Streets in the neighborhood.
Richard Byrnes, whose family owns a business nearby, pointed out the door toward Jamaica Avenue, under the elevated J and Z trains. “These places are all gone,” he said, glancing toward several locked storefronts. “Look at all the shutters down. All these empty places, and they’re going to ruin these people. It’s gonna be another 99-cent store.”