Secret prohibition tunnels, working-class specials and plain parlor fun: the Metropolitan Billiard Parlor’s rich history will continue under new management.
From the bar service to the free date night pool to the unkempt and untimely atmosphere, the Metropolitan Billiard Parlor, located at 371 High St., represents all the uniqueness Morgantown has to offer. Its new co-owner, Chris Evans, said he plans to keep that atmosphere going as he acquires the Parlor.
“This is an almost 100-year-old pool hall that opened in 1924, and over the century there’s been several owners,” Evans said. “We have always loved this place, though it could use a little fixing up and cleaning, but you can’t rebuild this kind of aesthetic. Its history that’s been put in a capsule: original floors, the pool tables are from the '30s and '40s, so there’s a lot of history here.”
Less attentive owners might buy a building thinking of it simply as a place to do business. Evans, however, has a history with the building, and wants to ensure that it stays the same unique venue it has always been.
“Absolutely I’m trying to carry on a legacy, like it’s a responsibility for this place to be here,” Evans said. “There’s a lot of history on the walls, and a lot of stories from locals about the history of the business.”
Evans, who is a WVU alumnus, was born and raised in Morgantown.
“The first time I came here I was probably about 14 years old, and it was like a dream. I walked down here for the first time in probably eighth grade and was like, ‘Wow, look at all these pool tables, and this place — so old!’” Evans said. “Into my 20s, I used to introduce out-of-towners to this place. Before owning the place, people would come to town and wanna see something unique and I’d say, ‘Hey, go to Gene’s in South Park and go to Metropolitan Billiard Parlor.’”
Evans explained the history of the venue, from its original Greek immigrant owners, the Comuntzis, all the way up to the present day. He also included tales and rumors ranging from 100-year-old Budweiser posters to secret bootlegging tunnels, which supposedly ran under High Street.
“Part of this is 100% fact,” he said. “Some might be legend. There’s some old sewer lines under High Street that connect one side of the street to the other, and supposedly back when the building was built, the same people built this building as the same building across the street, and we’ve always heard legends and rumors that during prohibition they used to use the tunnel to run booze back and forth, hide it from one place to the other.”
The Metropolitan Billiard Parlor plans to revive some of its old traditions as well as creating some new ones. These will include free "Date Night" pool, which is a free hour of pool with a receipt from a local restaurant. They will also have "Industry Night," free pool from 8 to 10 p.m. on Sunday’s, and half-price from 10 p.m., aimed at local food service workers. They will also include "Brunch ‘n Billiards," free pool with an Iron Horse Tavern receipt on Sunday’s.