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OUT AND ABOUT : Pool Halls Bank On Panache

January 20, 1994|CHRISTINA V. GODBEY

The well-dressed patrons queued up on Sunset Boulevard in late-model cars, waiting to leave their keys with the valet. Their destination wasn't a hip nightclub--it was an upscale pool hall at the Hollywood Athletic Club.

During its 70-year history, the club has catered to stars, including John Wayne and Charlie Chaplin. It served at one time as home to the University of Judaism and a record company.

The upscale billiard hall was added four years ago, when British entrepreneur Thomas Salter leased the building and remodeled it. The hall has 41 pool tables, a restaurant and a private party room. Fees are $14 per hour for two people.

"I didn't play pool for 25 years until I heard about the HAC," said Los Angeles resident Chris Corso. "I pulled up to the valet, had a cappuccino, saw the elegant tables and it's been home here every day for the past three years."

The athletic club hall is not unique. Upscale pool halls are sprouting up across the Westside. On the Santa Monica Promenade, for instance, two of them--Yankee Doodles and Gotham Hall--are set amid the stores and restaurants.

Unlike pool halls of yesteryear, these modern-day versions feature California cuisine, imported beer and wine and a light, airy atmosphere. The new trappings have been a hit, particularly with yuppies and the twentysomething set.

At Yankee Doodles on Friday, Jason Kammerer, grabbed a quick lunch and shot a game. "It's a a good way to relax during a bad day of work," he said. "And, you don't have to be good to play."

*

Among the Westside's new billiard clubs are:

* Hollywood Athletic Club, 6525 W. Sunset Blvd., Hollywood; (213) 962-6600. Open 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily.

* Yankee Doodles, 1410 Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica; (310) 394-4632. Open 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily.

* Gotham Hall, 1431 Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica; (310) 394-8865. Open 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily.

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