Pool hall leaving the Dillon Center
DILLON – In the midst of the town of Dillon’s attempts to attract more businesses to its downtown core, one of the main attractions in the Dillon Center has announced its closure.Rob Weber and Barb Kozee will shut down High Mountain Billiards, which has been a fixture in the Dillon Center for the past four years. Prior to the move to Dillon, the business was located on Main Street in Frisco.”We’re pretty bitter about it,” Weber said. “We’ve been up here since 1996 trying to give Summit County something different to do. We’ve been successful at it for eight-and-a-half years, but it’s, you know, apparently time to leave.”Weber said the countywide smoking ban put into law in June has hurt business “considerably.””Of course everyone will get used to that and business will rebound, but during that effect, you’ve got high rates to pay and less revenues coming in,” he said.Weber also said his distributors are raising prices to compensate for the rising price of gasoline. He and Kozee aren’t passing those increases onto their clientele because they cater to locals who don’t want to pay any more than $8 an hour for a pool table.Another problem, he said, is the upcoming construction plan for the Dillon Center, which would require him to shut down his business for at least two months.
Construction is set to begin later this month on a massive overhaul project that includes adding 38 townhomes on top of the existing structure.Weber said Dillon Center owner Abbas Rajabi told him that he and Kozee would have to renegotiate the rent when the project is finished.”Their lease is up,” Rajabi said. “Really that’s all there is to it.”Rajabi said Weber and Kozee’s lease expired last fall, and they’ve been operating on a month-to-month basis since then.Furthermore, he said, he is working with all the tenants to make sure the impact from construction is minimal.Rajabi admitted the businesses will see some interruptions and said “it may well be true” that the billiards hall was going to have to close for an undetermined amount of time. Some of the other businesses in the Dillon Center include Lakeside Bowl, Summit Interior, Mary’s Mountain Cookies and a flower shop. Rajabi estimates it’s about 60 percent full, before the pool hall leaves.Rajabi said many will be asked to relocate to one side of the building while work is being done.
Because of its size and function, Lakeside Bowl will not be moving.The last he knew, Kozee and Weber were trying to sell the billiard business, Rajabi said.Weber says Rajabi is correct and they even had an interested buyer, but as soon as the buyer found out the pool hall would have to close during construction, the deal was off.Kozee and Weber have to be out of their space by the end of the month, which leaves little time to find someone new.”If they find a qualified buyer and that buyer is willing to negotiate a lease, we welcome that,” Rajabi said.Weber also blames the town for his business’ demise because it has encouraged development on Highway 6, taking away customers from the downtown core.Town manager Jack Benson said business owners make their own decisions based on what is best for their ventures, but agrees that downtown is missing a human presence.
“Truly, (High Mountain Billiards) has struggled,” Benson said. “They’re one business that has showed what happens when you don’t have traffic in the town core.” Benson says the town’s challenge is to create an environment where people want to linger.”It’s a very difficult thing,” he said. “We don’t own the properties to do things and clearly we’re not succeeding yet.”Weber said he and Kozee don’t have the time or money to wait for downtown Dillon to be revitalized.He thinks their closure is another sign of the culture shift away from small business in the county.”Summit County is changing,” Weber said. “It used to be a small, quaint, nice little community and it’s changing.”Nicole Formosa can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 229, or at firstname.lastname@example.org
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