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Lake Forest Pool Hall Seeks to Lift Live-Entertainment Ban

Bigshot's Billiards, which opened in 1993, wants a city permit to allow karaoke, deejays or bands.

The economy has battered his business, but the owner of  isn't ready to give up just yet.

Chance Betor, who has run the Lake Forest pool hall since 1993 with his wife, Connie, wants the city to allow his establishment--which already includes a restaurant and bar--to host live entertainment.

"We had a good run for 16 years, but the last couple years have been tough," Betor said. "This is the first time we've ever thought about changing what we do."

The current permit for Bigshot's bans live entertainment, such as karaoke or a DJ, a restriction that has been in place since it opened.

"If business stays bad, we might have to adapt, so we don't want to have restrictions," Betor said. "We don't want to have to worry about being in violation so this is the time for us to get this thing lifted."

He filed a request with the city Aug. 24.

Betor is hopeful the permit will be granted, noting that similar El Toro Road nightlife destinations, such as  and Bobby D’s Bar and Grill, have no restrictions against applying for entertainment permits.

The website for Bigshot's is already advertising karaoke three nights per week. An announcement posted Sept. 7 says the pool hall plans to host karaoke every Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday starting at 9 p.m., with food and drink specials offered specifically for those nights of entertainment.

If the restriction is removed, Bigshot's will still have to file for an entertainment permit; the removal would simply allow the business to apply for such a permit, according to a city staff report.

When Betor went to file his initial request, he also noticed another restriction barring the establishment from being run by anyone besides himself.

"I hadn't seen [the permit conditions] in years," he said. "We had some weird restrictions slapped on us [when Bigshot's opened in 1993]."

To ensure he can transfer the business to his wife--to whom he has been married 25 years--or a family member, Betor is also requesting removal of that restriction.

"I've had some health issues," he said, "and "[my wife] knows just as much about the business as I do at this point."

A public hearing on the issue is scheduled to take place Thursday at a meeting of the city's Planning Commission.

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. at .

Julie Flores September 21, 2011 at 02:02 AM
This is a fun place run by some truly nice people. I hope Chance and Connie get the restrictions removed so they can adapt in this tough business environment.
KC September 21, 2011 at 03:39 AM
How has the removal of their main competition (Kelly McCue's burned down years ago and the owners did not try to rebuild) impacted their buisness? I'm actually surprised that they would try for Kareoke since it's not 1995 anymore and this isn't Japan. There was an article just yesterday about how in Europe the alcoholic beverage industry lost over a quarter million jobs due to the economy since people were not consuming as much and (since most of the jobs were in the service area rather than the brewing) people simply were drinking at home.
Anthony Zabala September 21, 2011 at 02:26 PM
They should go on that new show Bar Rescue! Really nice people work their though, with a few changes they should be able to turn things around. I wish them the best!
Harry September 21, 2011 at 09:52 PM
A bar needs a permit in LF for karaoke? How silly.
Maria Moffa Levenson September 22, 2011 at 12:31 AM
First of all, it's more or less a dump. Maybe not as bad as The Iron Mule, but it's still a dump. Maybe Bar Rescue could help, I don't know. In a city as nice as ours, why aren't there any really nice places for adults to hang out?

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