FARGO - A popular south Fargo gathering place is closing for good, another victim of restrictions on gatherings and worries tied to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The owners of Fargo Billiards & Gastropub announced on Facebook that the 11-year-old business at 3234 43rd St. S. will close permanently at the close of business Saturday, Nov. 14.
“Fargo Billiards will close for good at the end of this week, after Saturday Nov 14, 2020,” the post by owners Mike and Adele Page said Sunday Nov. 8.
MIke Page was stoic and philosophical about the coming closure of the business he loves.
"It's been fun. It's been good, he said Monday, Nov. 9, looking out over a small sea of pool tables, ping pong tables and corn hole games.
In the winter months, such as December and January, leading up to and bookending the holiday season, 4,000 or more people would cycle through the doors weekly for business, retirement and family events. But due to worries about the pandemic, many firms are backing away from large gatherings. It has hamstrung the business model for the huge eating and entertainment emporium.
"It's unfortunate. We're really a place that absolutely relies on big gatherings," Page said. "At this time of year, we rely on having many reservations from large- and mid-sized employers bringing people together."
Page said it "is a COVID thing. ... The problem here really is the virus."
The Pages, like many people in the hospitality industry, have watched their bottom line with concern throughout the initial stages of the pandemic. Winter is normally their busy season, but this winter was shaping up to be a bust.
Playing pool in the large hall is not the problem he said, particularly with the building's high ceilings and robust air handling system. The problem is losing out on the revenues generated by large groups.
"We're very reliant on big, close gatherings," he said.
In their Facebook post, the Pages thanked customers and employees.
“A lot of people have contributed to making the place - the Gastropub to some, Billiards or Fargo Billiards to others - be what it has been for the last eleven years. And we are so grateful to the contributions of the many current and former employees,” the post said.
“We set out to increase social engagement, to bring people together, to in some small way strengthen the bonds and weaken the barriers between us,” the Pages wrote.
“It’s a tough business - tough to make the numbers work under the best of circumstances. Group gatherings are our veins, and person-to-person interaction of the type we cannot do now is the blood that flows through them,” the couple wrote. “To all who are disappointed to hear this, we are sorry.”
According to the Fargo Billiards & Gastropub website, it is a 28,500-square-foot facility with 34 pool tables, ping pong, foosball, pinball, indoor bean bags, volleyball, and a large outdoor patio. There is also a full-service restaurant and bar and a 3,000-square-foot raised lounge. There are also rooms that can accommodate smaller gatherings.
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Fargo Billiards & Gastropub first opened in August 2009.