L.A. Bar History: Q’s Billiard Club Looks Back Over 25 Years

Brentwood’s classic bar has stories involving George Clooney and the rise and fall of potato skins

It’s crazy to think that Q’s Billiard Club in Brentwood has been around for a quarter of a century. We’re talking before craft beer was popular, before Sex & the City made girls’ night out a thing, and even before smoking in bars was illegal.

Ivan Kane (formerly of 40 Deuce and Cafe Was) used to bartend there as did The Parlor Hollywood’s Ike Pyun. It was where Demi Moore threw a birthday party for her then-husband Bruce Willis. Where George Clooney charmed the owners into selling him their foosball table. And where Linda Hamilton, all buffed out for her role in Terminator 2, cheered on her favorite sports teams.

Q’s debuted in May 1989 and is actually the result of three friends looking to fill a need. Back in the ‘80s, Sheri Hellard and her partners Avi Fattal and David Houston were hanging out at Plush Pocket pool hall in the Valley when they came up with the idea for Q’s. They agreed their establishment, unlike Plush Pocket, would have servers that actually took your drink orders while you played pool, food that was more substantial than beer nuts, and a DJ instead of a jukebox to get the crowd going. Most importantly, Hellard wanted the place to make women feel comfortable; not exactly a priority in the nightlife scene back then. Around that time a new trend of upscale pool halls were all the rage in New York and Boston, so it made perfect sense to bring that to L.A.

I had the chance to chat with co-owner Hellard about how much things have changed at Q’s over the past 25 years.

How has the menu changed over the years?
“When we first started we had the menu we’re going to do for the party [tonight], which is curly fries, Q’s sticks [mozzarella sticks], potato skins. Potato skins were so huge when we opened. And now our biggest seller is chicken fingers. But in the beginning we had ribs and a half roast of chicken. But that was one of the things we realized right away: Those don’t pair so well with playing pool.”

And how has the food scene changed?
“The thing I can say about the consumer now is that they are much more knowledgeable about the products that you are using. People want to know about the food. Back in the day they were just, ‘Give me a burger, I don’t care.’ So if you might not have made your own chicken fingers before, now that’s something that’s important. We always did make our own onion rings and chicken fingers but before they would never ask about that.”

What’s the secret to Q’s longevity?
“When we first started, our whole thing was we never wanted to be the ‘in’ place to go because if you’re the ‘in’ place to go, you’re going to be the ‘out’ place. We figured there’s going to be a new place every week, every month. So you can’t really compete with that. But what you can be is that place in the back of everyone’s mind: ‘Oh, I always have fun when I go there. Let’s just go there.’ And we’ve always stuck to that.”

Tonight Q’s celebrates its 25th anniversary with a totally tubular ‘80s-themed party starting at 9 p.m. There will be gift bag giveaways and ‘80s priced food and drinks like a cheeseburger and fries for $4.50, curly fries for $1.50, and cocktails and beer for only $3.50. Of course we’re talking drinks that were popular in the dark ages of cocktails like Sex on the Beach, Kamikaze, and White Russians, but still!

Q’s Billiard Club, 11835 Wilshire Blvd., West Los Angeles, 310-477-7550.