Taylor’s pool room is racking up its last set of billiard balls today. It also will be serving its last bowl of chili and the last of its “World Famous” cheeseburgers.

After nearly 60 years, the First Street fixture is going out of business.

Owner Marvin Taylor has sold the building to a pair of Richmond developers who own at least one other building on South First Street.

Repeated attempts to contact the new owners about their plans were unsuccessful.

Taylor, 66, said business had trailed off in recent years, and he decided to sell.

The pool room’s lunch counter seats were filled most every day this week. It was standing room only some days as customers waiting to eat one of their last lunches at Taylor’s.

“It used to be full like this all the time,” Marvin said, as a few old-timers played a round of pool near the back of the building.

The oiled floor in the playing area is patched in a few places with old Kentucky auto license plates.

Marvin’s son Jason, wearing a Cincinnati Reds cap, stayed busy hand patting ground beef patties and slapping them on the grill. Taylor’s burgers come with onions fried on the grill along with the beef. The french fries are cut from fresh potatoes, never frozen.

“We could go through 30 pounds of ground beef and 200 pounds of potatoes a day,” Jason said.

Marvin said the cheeseburgers were dubbed “World Famous” by an Eastern Kentucky University graduate who stopped in Richmond after returning from military duty in Germany.

Actor Lee Majors was a regular customer when he was an Eastern student, Marvin said.

Lloyd Tussey and Ronnie Cunliffe sat next to each other at the lunch counter Wednesday.

“I’ve been coming here regularly since I was a teenager,” said Cunliffe, 69.

“I’m a long-time customer, but I’ve usually come in only about four times a year,” Tussey said. “I thought I’d better get in here one last time.”

While the pool room did not survive through the 21st century’s first decade, it did outlive some cultural changes.

“This may be the first time I’ve ever been in this place,” said Carol Short, whose grandfather Bill Joe Mason was a former Richmond police chief.

“When my mother was growing up, he told her in no uncertain terms that a lady does not walk down First Street and never goes into Taylor’s Pool Room,” she said.

“I grew up in Florida, and we visited Richmond every summer and heard about Taylor’s. I never walked down First Street or went into the pool room.”

Short moved to Richmond in 1972 and learned to love Taylor’s cheeseburgers.

“I never came in to get them,” she said. “My husband would bring them out to me, because I had trouble going against what my grandfather had taught me.

“I just had to come into Taylor’s once before it closed.”

Paul Motley and his wife Merle had some Taylor’s burgers for lunch Thursday.

“I’m really going to miss this place,” said Paul, who graduated from high school with Marvin. “Jason lives across the street from us,” he said. “He knows everybody who comes in the door and usually what they want to eat.”

When Merle’s sister and brother-in-law from Cleveland, Ohio, once came to visit, the Motley’s took them to Taylor’s for lunch.

“My sister didn’t quite know what to make of this place,” Merle said.

The Taylors have sold six of the hall’s seven pool tables. Jason will be taking one home.

Jason has operated the pool room for about nine years as his dad concentrated on managing his farm. Jason has worked part-time in real estate and plans to pursue real estate full time in the future.

Farming, too, has changed in recent years, Marvin said. “We had to give up raising tobacco, and now I just fool with cattle.”

Marvin was a small boy when his father, Jewell Taylor, bought the pool room in November 1948. “My father ran it until February 1968,” he said. “He was ready to retire but wanted me to take over the pool room.” Richmond had five downtown pool halls then.

Marvin was reluctant to take over the business, but relented when his father said, “If you don’t take it I’m going to shut ’er down.”

“I promised to try to for a year, but I ran it for 31 years,” he said. “Then Jason took over.”

At closing time today, the old pool room will shut down for the last time.

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