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Business banking on family billiards in Waynesboro

April 01, 2004|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - The building at 406 E. Main St. that once housed a teen hangout to which police frequently were called in the late 1990s is no longer behind the eight ball.

The building reopened three weeks ago, newly refurbished, its purple painted exterior sporting a clean beige facade trimmed in green. It houses Waynesboro Family Billiards & Arcade, a family-oriented business that will operate with a zero-tolerance philosophy when it comes to unwanted behavior by patrons.

Shawn Robinson, 32; his wife, Rachel, 32; and her father, Benjamin Gates, formed a partnership to convert the large structure that started out years ago as a bowling alley into their new venture.

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Shawn Robinson, who works for a company that sells, repairs and services coin-operated game machines, decided to strike out on his own with the new billiard parlor.

The family is leasing the building. The renovations were done by Gates, a licensed carpenter.

In the newly refurbished interior up front are a reception counter and concession stand.

There also is room for two display pool tables, which the business sells, plus a full line of billiard and dart supplies. Along the north wall sit rows of renovated video, arcade and vintage pinball machines that Robinson repairs and sells on the premises and on the Internet. He said he's sold three pool tables since the business opened.

One item in his vintage inventory is a finely tuned, 1977 electro-mechanical model pinball machine that sports a bronco buster motif. One of the last of its kind made, it sells for $500, with a full guarantee.

Robinson repairs the machines in a large shop out back.

The newly carpeted large rear section holds eight pool tables, four of which are 9-foot, tournament-size models, plus four 7-foot models.

The east wall of the big room is lined with video and arcade games.

Smoking in the new facility is limited to three booths tucked into a far corner.

A list of rules that guide patron behavior inside is displayed on the wall near the front door. Banned are foul language, loitering, fighting, under-age smoking, drinking, illegal drugs and other anti-social behavior that will not be tolerated, Robinson said.

Another sign warns youngsters that there will be no violations of the borough's curfew laws.

Video cameras keep a watchful eye on the interior and a family member will be working whenever the place is open.

There's no punk rock on the jukebox. Selections run from soft rock, oldies and some country - even Sinatra.

"This is a place for families," Robinson said. "It's a safe environment."

Amateur Pool Players Association-sanctioned tournaments will begin later this month, Robinson said.

Carol Henicle, executive director of the Greater Waynesboro Chamber of Commerce, said that when the building was home to Extremes, a teen hangout, police were called on several occasions for fights and other rowdy behavior.

Robinson said he hoped the reputation of the building does not carry over to his business.

"This will be a place where people young and old can come to and have a good time and feel comfortable while they're here," Robinson said.

The Web site for the business is gameroomclassic.net.

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