Pool hall latest dream to come true for Olympia businessman Paul Girard

Pool hall latest dream to come true for Paul Girard after winning state lottery, beating cancer

rboone@theolympian.comDecember 29, 2013 

Paul Girard opened an all-ages pool hall about two years ago, a lifelong dream of his. That business is called Paulie G’s Pool and Deli, which opened in a former gun shop on Devoe Street in Olympia.

Nine years ago, Girard won the state Lottery, a lifelong dream for most people.

Turns out Girard had purchased a winning Lotto ticket in 2004, ultimately splitting an $8.3 million jackpot with another winner in July of that year. His ticket was worth $4.15 million, according to a front page story in The Olympian that month. Girard, who opted for the lump-sum payment, took home about $1.16 million after taxes.

The story gets better: He was set to undergo surgery for skin cancer when he won, so he finally had the money to pay for his medical expenses, he said.

After winning — and cancer free — Girard spent one month in the Netherlands, France and Switzerland with three friends, then came home and started a series of businesses: a fishing guide service, a skateboard business and a business called Home Safe that aimed to drive home the vehicle of a person who’d had too much to drink.

Those businesses either didn’t take off or Girard moved on, saying, for example, that he’d rather fish with his father than with strangers.

He also made a large personal loan during that time and soon found himself running out of money and in need of work. The idea of a pool hall had always appealed to him.

“This is my dream,” he said. “I am living my dream.”

Paulie G’s has nine pool tables with each renting for $8 per table. The business also serves sandwiches, including subs, and beverages, including beer in cans and bottles.

The sub sandwiches range from $8 to $10, he said.

It is an all-ages pool hall — the business has child-size pool cues — but Girard also made clear that it is not a day care, and that he also expects a certain amount of decorum from his customers. Girard tended bar for 17 years and has seen his share of bar fights, something he wants to avoid with his new business.

Girard acknowledged that he once asked a customer, who he thought was wearing his pants too low around his waist, to pull them up. That led to an exchange of words with the customer, which resulted in a negative review on the business review website Yelp, he said.

But he defended his actions as a business owner.

“Behavior is important,” said Girard, 44.

The business already has attracted some regulars.

Jerry Anderson, 71, of Olympia and Neil Seljestad, 76, of Olympia, play pool regularly at Paulie G’s.

Anderson said he is working on his pool game again after playing a little when he served in the Marine Corps, while Seljestad, who has played the game for many years, said he is not as good as he used to be.

Paulie G’s Pool and Deli

Owner and operator: Paul Girard.

Location: 527 Devoe St. SE Olympia.

Years in business: About two.

Type of business: All-ages pool hall.

Hours: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. seven days a week.

Online: poolhallolympia.com.

Advice to business owners: Running a business is always 10 times harder than you think it’s going to be, and you have to get out of your own way to make money. In other words, you are there to serve the customer, not yourself, Girard said.

Did you know? Girard is an ordained minister. He also tended bar for 17 years, survived cancer and won the state Lottery in 2004.

Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403 rboone@theolympian.com

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