Right on cue: Penacook to add billiards hall to a growing entertainment scene

Co-owner Jeff Burnham  speaks to a sales rep at Capital City Billiards.

Co-owner Jeff Burnham speaks to a sales rep at Capital City Billiards. Ray Duckler—Monitor staff

Kathy Miller of Weare is co-owner of Capital City Billiards, which is in the process of opening up on Penacook.

Kathy Miller of Weare is co-owner of Capital City Billiards, which is in the process of opening up on Penacook. Ray Duckler—Monitor staff

Kathy Miller and her partner, Jeff Burnham are converting a former fitness facility to the Capital City Billiards in the Fisherville Road plaza. The pool business will feature 14 new Brunswick tables, each nine feet long, plus darts, a small kitchen and a full bar.

Kathy Miller and her partner, Jeff Burnham are converting a former fitness facility to the Capital City Billiards in the Fisherville Road plaza. The pool business will feature 14 new Brunswick tables, each nine feet long, plus darts, a small kitchen and a full bar. GEOFF FORESTER photos / Monitor staff

Kathy Miller convert the former fitness facility to the Capital City Billiards at the Thrity Pines Plaza. The pool business will feature 14 new Brunswick tables, each nine feet long, plus darts, a small kitchen and a full bar.

Kathy Miller convert the former fitness facility to the Capital City Billiards at the Thrity Pines Plaza. The pool business will feature 14 new Brunswick tables, each nine feet long, plus darts, a small kitchen and a full bar. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Kathy Miller talks with one the vendors that are helping convert the former fitness facility into the Capital City Billiards.

Kathy Miller talks with one the vendors that are helping convert the former fitness facility into the Capital City Billiards.

By RAY DUCKLER

Monitor staff

Published: 02-11-2024 5:00 AM

Once, the clanging of weights and humming of treadmills filled the 6,500 square-foot facility adjacent to the Thirty Pines plaza across Burough Road.

Soon, though, a new sound – the crackling of pool balls smashing together – will join Penacook’s recently expanded entertainment landscape when an Epsom couple unveils 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 own Tropical Smoothie Cafe on Loudon Road, which opened three years later.

Both establishments are doing well, Miller said, leading to this recent expansion of their modest business empire.

“We wanted to find a (pool) place in Concord,” said Miller, standing in the cavernous empty space. “We were definitely getting a lot of feedback. Jeff is huge into the pool community, and he knows a lot of pool players in Concord, and they often come down to Pelham to play. Knowing they were displaced, we kind of made a decision that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have one closer to us and to them.”

Capital City Billiards occupies the spot vacated last summer by All Out Fitness, which, after five years, moved across Burough Road last June and into the Thirty Pines plaza.

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Capital City Billiards will feature 14 new Brunswick tables, each nine feet long, plus darts, a small kitchen and a full bar.

It’s the third establishment within the past two years aiming to enhance Penacook’s nightlife. All three are located a few hundred yards from one another.

Alexandra’s Bistro opened two years ago, replacing Donatello’s Pizza, a longtime local landmark in the village. The restaurant offers upscale dining, remaining open until 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

Then, in the same complex, Kirk McNeil, after a dispute with his landlord, moved his popular Area 23 pub and music venue in Concord – once tucked off Route 3 into the right corner of the Smokestack Center – to the Thirty Pines plaza, sandwiched between a laundromat and the Post Office.

The Forum Pub will be one-third the size of Area 23, but will still feature live music, on a smaller scale, plus karaoke, trivia night and, McNeil hopes, a crowd of regulars.

Bands from all over New England will be invited to play on weekends, with no cover charge, a formula that worked well at Area 23.

The Forum Pub will change the buzz and rhythm of the area, bringing more people, more cars and more competition.

“We’re hoping we can add to the north of Concord-Penacook scene,” McNeil said recently. “We also hope we can contribute to working with the restaurants in the area. We took great pains to make sure we had a different menu.”

And soon, pool on 14 new, high-end tables will be added to the mix. Miller’s partner, Jeff Burnham, is an experienced pool player.

Asked if he was a good player, Miller said, “He says he is, chuckling.”

On a serious note, she gave credit to 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’ll do a lot of pool leagues, and a lot of tournaments will be planned for the future,” Miller said. “He’s big into like promoting women’s pool and trying to get adolescents to play and be part of the pool community. He’s also trying to work with the Boys and Girls Club, so we have a lot planned.”