Fresno’s legendary billiard room closes, victim of Covid shutdowns

Pat Coppock (left) and her daughter, owner Sheri Dadian, have been running Diamond Billiards since 2018. Dadian, the wife of founder Dan Dadian, said she is grateful for all the long-time customers who have created so many memories at the pool hall over the years. Photo by Frank Lopez

published on November 12, 2021 – 13:36
Written by Frank Lopez

A major entertainment and nightlife scene in Fresno is closing its doors after decades in business.

Diamond Billiards at 6460 N. Blackstone Ave. near Sierra Avenue is permanently closed.

Owner Sheri Dadian announced on October 30 that the bar would close for good the following day. Then came a half-price sale on everything in the pool hall—from pool tables to restaurant equipment to pictures and signs adorning the walls.

Dadian said the business is closing because the landlord is terminating the lease for non-payment of rent in the months it was forced to close due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

She said she expected more leniency from property owners, having done business there for so many years and always paying her rent on time. Dadian told them she would have no income to pay rent if the state forces them to close.

When the state reopened on June 15 of this year, Dadian started paying rent again.

She paid half of the month of June and the full rent for July, August, September and October, and then she was told she was being evicted.

“Now we’re out,” Dadian said. “They want to sue me for $160,000 in back rent. If the owner needs the money, go to the state, go to the government and get it, I don’t have it. I have always paid my rent. How am I going to repay $160,000? I’m pretty sure they’ll sue me for that.”

Dadian said she received 30 days’ notice on Oct. 15 that they had to be out by Nov. 15.

During the pandemic, Dadian said she paid $20,000 for in-ceiling electrical wiring, new LED ceiling lights, floodlights, paint jobs and a new floor out of her own pocket. She said the owners said it was her responsibility to fix the air conditioning even though the unit is on the roof.

Diamond Billiards did receive a loan from the Paycheck Protection Program, but because it was discontinued and there were no employees, that money had to be repaid with $200 interest.

“Now I am bankrupt, my company is bankrupt and I am unemployed,” Dadian said.

Fittingly for the holidays, Dadian said she decided to close on October 31 for a “scary Halloween.”

There were seven employees before the start of the pandemic, but none of them returned for work when Diamond Billiards reopened.

News of the liquidation sale is mainly spread through word of mouth because the closure was so sudden.

As an entrepreneur, Dadian understands what property owners and landlords go through, but they need to be more accommodating to trusted tenants, she says.

“If you have a well-paid tenant, keep it,” Dadian said. “As a business owner, and I’ve also been a landlord, if you have someone who pays the rent and improves the facility, keep them.”

Diamond Billiards was first opened by Dan Dadian, Sheri’s late husband, in the 1970s near Shields and Chestnut Avenues. They bought another pool hall on Ashlan Avenue off Highway 99 in 1993, one in Hanford and one in Reno.

The Blackstone Avenue location opened in 2004.

When Dan opened his early businesses, billiard halls had a reputation for being smoke-filled rooms with drab decor and unsavory characters.

Dan wanted to ensure that his billiard rooms provided a comfortable and attractive environment where the game could be seen as a casual form of entertainment.

In 2008 Dan became ill. He told Shari she could choose whichever location in the billiard room she wanted to keep open and run. She chose the location in Blackstone. Dadian said it was a great company and always performed well.

Dan passed away in 2012.

She said that in addition to losing her business, a great environment in Fresno will also be lost. Dadian mentioned her regulars, all the first dates and memories created in the pool hall, and the pool tournaments that brought world-class players together under one roof.

“Everyone we had here was like family,” Dadian said. “When Covid hit, you couldn’t get together and cuddle. When the state said we could open 100%, I hugged every person who came through the door. I think I’m going to miss that from my clients. We care about these people. We love these people.”

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