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Pooling Together for a Good Time

July 15, 1994|DAVID WHARTON

Without so much as a star-studded benefit or a single revving Harley, the trendy Hollywood Athletic Club opened a San Fernando Valley branch at CityWalk in May. The original hall, located in a storied building of Italianate architecture, attracts the stars and is often packed. But the new club, tucked off an upstairs balcony, is new enough that players don't have to wait for hours to get a table.

THE SCENE: A sparkling bar, a restaurant and tasteful decor. There are tables upstairs and down. Greg Park stopped by recently with a friend after their class at the nearby UCLA Extension. "We usually play at Yankee Doodle's or Gotham City on the Third Street Promenade," said Park, 27, of Hacienda Heights. "This is different. The crowd is a little older. It's less loud."

THE CROWD: "Over in Hollywood, it's the movie actor scene," said April Dion, a club waitress. "Here, we get a lot of the Burbank studio people." Indeed, the clientele sports more than a few coats and ties. A few pink-skinned tourists are likely to be huddled near the bar. There is an acceptable scattering of the young and denim, as well. But it's a different story when the girl with the pierced eyebrow and her friends walk in. "The people are looking at us like we're riffraff," said Trixie DeLeon, 19, of Van Nuys. "This place is a bit high-class, I guess."

THE MUSIC: The house stereo plays everything from alternative to classic rock. John Lienhardt, the club's general manager, says that a schedule of live performances will begin within the next month.

THE GOOD: Pools halls are like the proverbial glass of water. You can look at them as half-full or half-empty. Sure, the new places lack a degree of character. But the cues run straight and the felts are bright and clean.

THE BAD: A cheap date this ain't. The tables run $15 an hour in the evening. Cocktails cost $4 and more. There is even a tip jar for the guy who hands out the pool balls.

THE UGLY: Avoid the fried calamari.

The Hollywood Athletic Club is located on the second floor of the center court at CityWalk in Universal City. Hours are 11:30 to 2 a.m. every day. Tables cost $8 an hour until 7 p.m., $15 an hour until closing. Casual attire is acceptable. Minors accompanied by an adult are allowed in the pool room until 9 p.m. (818) 505-9238.

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