Legendary Blatt Billiards creates custom masterpieces from its lower Broadway headquarters.
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“At one time, there were 4,000 pool rooms around New York City,” marvels Ron Blatt, president and CEO of Blatt Billiards. He’s talking about the Depression-era days, when his family’s company first opened its doors. If you’ve ever strolled up Broadway from Soho, chances are you’ve passed Blatt, and maybe even wondered what’s inside. It’s in a rather modest-looking building with a brick facade, just north of 11th Street on the west side of Broadway, and it happens to be home to the world’s finest pool tables.
Blatt, whose grandfather Sam founded the company and whose father Maurice ran it until 1969, started working in the family business part-time when he was eight years old and full-time in 1960. The company has called 809 Broadway home since 1923.
Although the surrounding neighborhood has changed over the last century, inside the store much has remained the same. The third floor is still the workshop, where a team of men from countries around the world hand-carves pool table legs, creates elaborate inlays, and shapes the tables’ elegant forms. The fourth floor is the showroom, where customers can begin to dream up custom tables, with hundreds of wood, color, and fabric samples to choose from. There are antique tables stacked three high and many more deep to provide inspiration and guidance. The fifth floor remains the finishing area, where more than 20 steps are completed before a table is ready.
Blatt’s has 2,500 tables in stock—mostly antique—yet 85 percent of the tables it sells are custom. Prices start at around $18,000 for a fully custom table and can quickly reach six figures, depending on which materials are used. Blatt has a saying about buying his products: “There are only two limitations: your wallet and your imagination.” He recalls an order with diamond inlays, another with malachite, and still others built with rare woods such as rosewood and ebony.
His clients include Mayor Bloomberg (who has purchased three tables), Will Smith, 50 Cent, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and, most recently, hotelier Steve Wynn, who bought a table for his recently acquired $70 million penthouse atop the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, on Central Park South.
“I always invite people down to go through the whole table-making process,” Blatt says. “And I promise you’ll never look at a pool table the same way again.”