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Changes Coming to Champion Billiards

by ARLnow.com | August 3, 2011 at 1:30 pm | 4,159 views | 35 Comments

Champion Billiards, a Shirlington-area haven for poolsharks since the early 90s, is getting a new name, a new menu and a pair of new owners.

Misti Wise and Amy Borek were bartenders at Champion (2620 S. Shirlington Road) during the 90s. Now they’re coming back as owners, hoping to turn around Champion’s moribund business by making the place more attractive as a local food-and-drink destination.

“We want to appeal to everybody in the community, not just the staunch pool players,” said Borek. “Our hope is to be a real neighborhood destination… It will be a great story if we’re successful.”

The actual changes planned are somewhat minor. At the end of the month, Wise and Borek are planning to close Champion for a week to freshen up the place: add a new coat of paint, replace the old TVs with new flat screen TVs, spruce up the bar, etc. They will also be changing the name, from “Champion Billiards” to “Lucy’s ARL.” The pool tables and other staples will remain, although a skeeball machine may be added.

Then there are the planned changes to the menu, which Borek says will be key to attracting new customers. The tired old bar food will be replaced by “good bar food,” while prices will be kept relatively low.

“Before, food was kind of an after-thought,” Borek said. “I don’t want to alienate the existing customer base, so we don’t want to go high-end, but we want to have fun food with a bit of a twist.”

Among the signature menu items that the new owners plan to introduce are “zawiches” — sandwiches that use two slices of pizza instead of bread, like the kind Borek saw venders offering on the streets of Italy. A new, more interesting chicken tender appetizer and a pulled pork sandwich are among the other planned signature items.

Borek and Wise, who officially take over ownership on Sept. 1, will be renting the space from Champion’s existing owner. After working there for many years, then leaving, then coming back, Borek says they’re looking forward to reviving a place that “has history in the community.”

“We’re very, very excited,” she said. “You walk back in and it’s like old times. It’s a cool feeling.”

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  • Cherrydale Ken

    As the edges of Shirlington experiences a rebirth, I’m excited to hear about this development. I must be honest tho. Not feeling the name.

    • SamsontheCat

      Lucy’s ARL? Is it a nod to ARLnow? Lucy’s Army Research Lab or maybe Lucy’s Animal Rescue League?

      Lucy’s Awesome Rolling Lanes works. Who’s Lucy though? They’re Misti and Amy.

      • Stu Pendus

        I agree, mass confusion. They have some splaining to do.

  • JRS

    Will they still be hosting SnB poker?

  • Southeast Ben

    Looks like a dump from the outside. I drive by it all the time on my way to Shirlington…always intrigued, but never ventured in (mostly because of the people loitering around).

    • Lou

      I always think about the manager that got murdered in there. It’s always been kind of a rough place. There are better places to shoot stick around here.

      • KC Shirlington

        There was a murder there?! When did that happen?! Agree about often seeing creepy guys loitering around the place. Our CrossFit gym used to share the building with them, but it was not a happy marriage, due to their smoking on the shared balcony and their griping about the noise when we would drop weights. Much happier at our new location in from of Dave’s carwash on S. 4 Mile Run Drive.

    • BoredHouseWife

      you mean you can actually drive on that pockmarked road?

  • Richard Cranium

    They’re going to benefit greatly from overflow traffic as soon as WalMart goes in across the street.

  • Hokie

    Just wait until the place takes of once Walmart moves in.

  • flatliner

    Trivia!?

  • Jennifer

    I can’t wait to see this place under new ownership! I hear these girls are amazing and will definantly freshen the place up with their shear presence!! Good luck and see ya soon girls!

    • Rosslynite

      Shear presence? Like Edward Scissorhands?

  • Jennifer G

    I have complete faith in these girls. When you believe in something and have the right vision, you can make things happen! Enjoy the ride to success :)

  • SaveDaveMcKenna

    It ain’t playin’ pool if you can’t smoke like Fats and Felson.

  • mike mike

    this is a POOL hall, so as long as they focus on that and don’t get away from that fact then it should be fine. put some money into improving all the tables, that should be more of a priority than “pizza sandwiches”.

    and yeah, the name sucks. hopefully this works out…otherwise they will lose a LOT of business just like Bungalow did around the corner from them

    • Toni

      I agree the tables need to be better maintained! I just wonder if this is still going to be the place that I decide to play pool at.

  • ArlForester

    I remember those two ladies! I wish them tons of luck. We spent many nights honing our pool game there while they slung drinks. Of course they may be a little less likely to give away the house these days, har har.

  • Penny

    Seems like a lot of negative comments when folks should be looking forward to something new, refreshing, different, better. What’s wrong with Lucy’s? Short, snappy, easy to remember. Let’s see Champions vs. Lucy’s – no contest. Let’s support these women and help them get this place off to a great beginning! I’m planning on being a new customer ~ and looking forward to the zawiches!

    • ArlForester

      +1

    • AllenB

      +2

  • Cherrydale Ken

    I like “Lucy’s.” Works for me. I just don’t get the added “ARL”. I love Arlington but adding that makes the name clumsy.

    • Michael H.

      +1

      The “ARL” is just strange. Maybe something like Lucy’s Billiards would be better.

  • NOVApologist

    I think ARL is going to start appearing on oval bumper stickers just like OBX

    • CrystalMikey

      Please no.

      • Lee-n-Glebe

        ACK

  • George

    I have been playing pool in the league there since 1994 and just hope the pool tables in the Pit don’t make an exit like they did a couple years ago when the ownership changed. I would hate to move my team to another location. I surely wish Misti and Amy good luck in their new adventure.

  • Rick

    Their new menu sounds like an epic meal time episode. I’m in

  • no sure

    Think it was a double homicide, if memory serves me right, perhaps a robbery gone bad. Think the suspect got the death penalty and there were some court clerk problems that spared his life. As bad as that seems, nothing compared to the run Hi Cue has had over the years on the Pike.

  • annoyed

    um just would like to point out that there was 1 homicide, not 2, if ya dont know what went down, then ya probably have no business posting that being thats how rumors start. hi-cue definetly has more violence and riff raff however, that i completely agree with.

  • Nate

    THE GOOD: new flat screen TVs, new menu, new paint, decision not to go high-end

    THE BAD: skee-ball, air hockey, etc…. It’ll turn the place into a Chuck E Cheese. Please invest $$ into repairing the tables. Drop the ARL from the new name.

    that being said, congrats and good luck

  • Peggy Hill

    i cant wait until they re-open! I think these women know enough about what people want in a restaurant/poolhall to give it to them. the place suffered a lot from bad or inconsistant management throughout the years, and maybe this is finally it’s chance. I like the name change, who doesn’t love some A-town pride? As long as there’s beer and pool I’m overjoyed to give it a chance!

  • Joe V.

    Big pool hall and dart bar. They had some good crowds for dart and pool but various previous managers essentially ran off the dart players and half the pool league. Hopefully the woman’s touch will help clean up the image both figuratively and literally. Classic dives don’t have to be dirty.

  • ArlForester

    It is probably good timing as the neighborhood is going through a sort of a renaissance.

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