Pelican ‘Pool Hall Gang’ marks decade, serving as ‘hang-out’
for local good old boys–and visitors 

Members of the Pelican Rapids “Pool Hall Gang” gathered for a tenth birthday photo.  The longtime pool hall was on the verge of closing, when the regulars formed a non-profit organization to carry on the tradition of an old fashioned, small town pool hall. 
Two who were instrumental in arranging the deal with the Pelican Rapids headquartered Masonic Lodge, which owns the structure, were Chet Nettestad, third from left, and attorney Chuck Krekelberg, fourth from left. 

A decade ago, one of the region’s last remaining, traditional “pool halls” was about to be lost to history. 

But the Pelican Rapids Pool Hall “gang” lives on. 

Many jokingly refer to the Pelican Pool Hall as an adult day care center. 

But it was almost destined to close  in 2009, until pool hall regulars banded together and worked out a deal with the Pelican Rapids Masons, who own the building.  Attorney and next door neighbor Chuck Krekelberg assisted with the legal framework for the pool hall to continue operating as a volunteer, non-profit facility. 

The “gang” observed the 10th anniversary of the arrangement in June.  

It was a local crisis back in 2009, when owner operator Jim Schultz was set to close his “Sportsman’s Recreation Pool Hall and Cafe.” 

The establishment was facing the prospect of spending $10,000 to upgrade kitchen and food service equipment to Minnesota Department of Health standards.  

Schultz, an “oldtimer” himself, wasn’t in a position to make that kind of investment at his stage of life.  

“That’s too large a pill to swallow,” said Schultz at the time, noting that the operation really didn’t even show a profit. “This is a small town.  We don’t make money here. We keep it open for the old guys.  I enjoy being here too.  I’m getting to be an old guy myself. I like shooting pool and hanging out too.”

Schultz’s main concern: 

 “I don’t know what the old boys will do when the doors lock.” 

That’s when the “non-profit” concept was hatched–and it reached the decade mark this year. 

Chet Nettestad has been one of the “hustlers” behind keeping the pool hall operational. And the Pelican-based Otter Tail Mason unit has been cooperative in leasing the space to keep an old fashion pool hall going. 

Nettestad often refers to it as a “micro community center.” There is some kind of activity almost every week–from birthday parities to wild game potluck lunches. 

 The Boy Scouts have been invited in to learn the game from the old pros.  And the boys haven’t been exclusive, as there have been a number of female regulars. 

The old guys tend to look out for one another, and it is not uncommon for the guys to arrange medical appointments for members, and make various social service connections. 

There is only limited food service and, of course, coffee.  Lots of coffee.  

The members pay an annual member fee, and pay for coffee. Periodic donations also help pay the bills at the pool hall.

As essentially the last “traditional” pool hall in the region, the joint has also attracted visitors and seasonal residents from the greater Pelican area. 

The main level has believed to have served as a pool hall and cafe since about the 1930s. Originally, it was built as a bank, in 1882. 

The Masonic Lodge has meeting rooms and headquarter offices upstairs.