MUNSTER | Life is what happens when you're planning something else -- like a miscue spoiling a tailor-made pattern of simple straight-in shots in 9 Ball.
Mike Maruszczak had imagined his family business, Jukebox Billiards, to remain a fixture from its side-pocket position on Calumet Avenue just south of I-80/94 in Munster for years to come.
Then came the flood of 2008, and Maruszczak and his business were suddenly behind the 8 Ball.
"I was devastated," Maruszczak said of witnessing the distressing sight of his pool hall having been turned essentially into a swimming pool with waist-high flood water.
"I thought that was it," Maruszczak said. "I didn't think there was any way we could recover from that.
"But after the initial shock, we went to work. We broke down the tables, pulled up the carpet, and went at for seven-straight days without any rest. We forged ahead despite the adversity."
Now, Jukebox Billiards' table run has reached a quarter of a century. And Maruszczak says they're "hustling" more than ever.
"Especially this time of the year," he said. "Pool tables are great gifts for the whole family. We're dealers of Olhausen and C.L. Bailey tables, which I'm proud to point out are American made. We recover them, we repair them and we move them.
"Moving a pool table can be dangerous if you don't know what you're doing."
Usually, Maruszczak spends much of his downtime at the United Center, where he is a longtime Chicago Blackhawks season-ticket holder.
"It just makes me sick," he said of NHL lockout, which continues to snooker the season.
Though Maruszczak and the Hawks have been absent, a pool table purchased from Jukebox Billiards still gets plenty of playing time at the United Center.
"The table in the Harris Club suite came from us," Maruszczak said. "It's a beauty ... it goes for about $25,000."
The table has even helped draw some new business for Maruszczak.
"One of my more famous customers is (Blackhawks star winger/center) Patrick Kane," Maruszczak said. "During a game, his father -- who sits close to us -- came up to me and asked, 'Are you the guy who fitted the Harris Club with that pool table?' When I told him 'yes', he wanted to buy a shuffleboard table from us for his son.
"Shuffleboard is getting popular again. So is air hockey."
Aside from the table and accessories sales, as well as a full-service pro shop, Jukebox Billiards is primarily a pool hall with 15 tournament-size tables.
"I like to consider us an upscale pool hall," Maruszczak said. "Some people have images of pool halls of being dark, dirty and smoke-filled, but we're now smoke free.
"Even when we weren't smoke-free, we had pretty good filters. Still, it's much better with no smoke."
Jukebox Billiards hosts 9 Ball tournaments on Monday nights, and 8 Ball tournaments on Wednesday nights.
"We're trying to reach out to get more high school and college kids to come in here and play," Maruszczak said. "We attract a lot of business from all over due to our reputation and our website (www.jukeboxbilliards.com). But I was just talking to a high school kid from right here Munster, who said he likes to play pool, yet somehow has never heard of us."