IRVING PARK — Pressure Billiards, a popular Edgewater destination for the last 10 years, is planning to expand to a second location in Irving Park.
Owner Wahib Merchant is in the process of purchasing Marie's Golden Cue, 3241 W. Montrose Ave., with a goal of reopening in early 2017 after extensive renovations, he told residents Tuesday night at a community meeting.
Though the news that one pool hall would be replacing another elicited few strong opinions, neighbors were excited by Merchant's intention to combine a cafe with a billiards room.
"We're different than what's happening there now," said Merchant, who is requesting approval for a Public Place of Amusement license, required of any establishment with more than two pool tables.
Pressure's makeover will include the addition of a full kitchen, serving pastries, sandwiches and coffee during the day and then switching over to a pub menu after 4 p.m.
"That's my favorite part," neighbor Erin Linklater said of the cafe.
A member of the civic organization The Residents of Irving Park, Linklater said she had an opportunity prior to Tuesday's meeting to "drill" Merchant with questions about his operation and came away convinced it "will be a complete step up" for the community.
"It's like a zone of nothingness there now," she said.
Merchant likened Pressure to a bowling alley — more a place to hang out and socialize with friends and family, less a place for pool hustlers.
"Our tagline is 'Bringing communities together playfully,'" he said. "I want to change the way people look at pool."
To that end, Merchant said that unlike other pool halls, Pressure's tables — there will be 14 on Montrose — are always lit, whether they're in use or not.
"It makes it look safer," he said. "You can see straight across the room."
His architect is exploring whether the storefront's windows can be opened to the outside in the summer, and a sidewalk cafe is another possibility, Merchant said.
A preliminary design also leaves room for a small stage, like the one that's used at the Edgewater location for comedy nights and jazz combos.
Families will be welcome during the day and early evening, but regulations require an 18-and-over crowd after 9 p.m., Merchant said.
Tony Dreyfuss, founder of Metropolis Coffee, which will supply Pressure's coffee, was on hand Tuesday to support Merchant as a friend and a fellow businessman.
"You don't know me from Adam, but I vouch for this guy," Dreyfuss said.
Pressure is "a business run in the most excellent manner by a top-notch individual," he said.
In taking the pulse of the room, Ald. Deb. Mell (33rd) asked community members to signal a thumbs up or down on the requested amusement license.
The response: unanimous thumbs up.
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