Local Pool Hall's Live Music Has Owners Singing a New Tune

Bigshot's Billiards now hosts carefully curated live music once a week.

It's safe to say you'll never hear death metal banging on at  on El Toro Road, but if you stop by on the weekend you're likely to catch some more low-key live performances.

Chance and Connie Betor held out against introducing live entertainment at their Lake Forest pool hall and bar for 18 years, since the day the long-married couple opened its doors in 1993.

"For the first 15 years, we didn't have to do much [to attract customers]," Connie Betor said in a recent interview with Patch.

Fans of Bigshot's came by to shoot pool, have a beer or try some wings.

"Our business was good the way it was and we didn't want to change," she said.

It took three years of a down economy—and seeing both karaoke and bands gain popularity at similar establishments—to finally change their minds.

Once they —which had forbid it to host live entertainment in its initial use permit—Chance Betor made the rounds to the Orange County bars that host music, checking out his options.

"I knew if we were going to entertainment, we were going to do it right," Connie Betor said. "I want my customers to know it's going to be good music."

That means that bands allowed to play Bigshot's are of the same caliber seen at other Orange County music venues, such as the in San Juan Capistrano, she said.

Musically, it means the selections center on crowd-pleasing genres, such as classic rock and country.

The potential for late-night chaos at the bar was a factor that kept them from inviting live acts to perform for nearly two decades, but the Betors said they have found that careful selection of the musical acts allowed to play have prevented any trouble.

"This is real low-key," Chance Betor said. "It gets crowded but not rowdy. I think the key is the kind of music you let in."

That means turning down a lot of garage bands, he said, but letting down those groups is worth keeping the quality of the music up for Bigshot's visitors.

On Friday, the popular band Flock of 80's will headline the night's entertainment at the bar.

The band packed the bar for their last performance, on Jan. 20, the Betors said.

To accommodate fans this weekend, the Betors plan to remove two pool tables, increasing the dance floor area.

Other changes they've made since the introduction of live music include installing a new wooden dance floor—just in time for the Kelly Boyz, a popular country group—and doubling the size of the bar.

Those changes and the music, though a gamble to spend the money during a time of slowed business, have had the desired effect so far, the Betors said.

On Saturday nights, the night that bands usually play at the bar, "we're absolutely full," Connie Betor said.

She now works alongside Chance those nights, staying up until 2 a.m. or later.

The real surprise? "It's just amazing how enjoyable it is," she said. "We are kind of homebodies, we don't usually go out much." 

Now, they see live music each weekend, even if it is part of the job.

"I kind of wish we could have done it years ago," she said.


Flock of 80's

Where/When: Bigshot's Billiards, 23512 El Toro Rd., Friday, 9 p.m.

Why Go: There's no cover to see this popular band, which performs hits from the 80s. The band's last visit to Bigshot's packed the bar with fans.

Pricing: Free


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