Action is upstairs at Pizza Cellar

Published 12:19 pm Thursday, May 5, 2011

From left, Jenny Fort, Debbie Farr and owner, Colette Lea of The Pizza Cellar in Blooming Prairie, joke with each other in the kitchen before opening Wednesday night. -- Matt Peterson/

For the small town of Blooming Prairie, one could say The Pizza Cellar is kind of a big deal.

Since 1989, it’s been a hub to the community with its central location and its space to accommodate hundreds.

However, The Pizza Cellar is more than a pizza joint. It’s home to The Cue Co., possibly the largest pool hall in southeastern Minnesota.

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Like some restaurants, the building has a main dining hall, a bar with a few pool tables and a large event hall. But upstairs, its strictly billiards. In addition to four tables in the bar, The Cue Co. has eight.

Colette Lea, who co-owns The Pizza Cellar with her husband, Tony, especially enjoys cooking.

“It’s fun — it’s different,” she said. “It’s a big change.”

Colette doesn’t even like to play pool. She and Tony live one block from the business, and they enjoy the flexibility their business gives them. There is a catch, though.

“We don’t really get to leave town a lot,” Colette said. “We can’t just say, ‘sorry, we’re leaving for a week; you deal with it.”

Colette now knows the stress of owning her own business, but after six years at The Cellar, she said it’s better than the stress she experienced at her past job as a child protection investigator.

“This is a different kind of stress,” she said.

It’s not all fun and games for Tony, either. He crafts and sells pool cues, fixes them and sells professional cue bags. Though Blooming Prairie may not need that many pool tables or professional billiards services, others do. Among in-house, local and masters’ pool leagues, The Cue Co. hosts DNR-Star Vending’s second largest pool tournament, which has brought as many as 260 competitors.

With summer around the corner, the billiards business is slowing down for The Cue Co. Colette knows with any restaurant or bar business, things are up and down. However, she and Tony host an upcoming street dance when their business will be open. They also have upcoming specials and are experimenting.

“No day is ever the same,” Colette said.

She added that her favorite part is the small community. She likes to buy her ingredients locally and help others.

“That’s the only way a small town’s going to keep going,” she said.

Furthermore, she’s met many people she never would have otherwise.

The Pizza Cellar is open 4 to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and until 9 p.m. on Sundays. The Cue Co. is open 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Monday through Saturday. There aren’t strict rules, but if one asked Colette, she’d probably say to try the house pizza. And don’t sit on the pool tables.