Bob White “open house” recap

The Bob White showed its promise on Saturday, thanks to Nick Storie and his commitment to involving the community in his planning and visioning for the property.  Unfortunately, the community only got a glimpse of that promise from the bitter, cold parking lot, as the crowd was too large to accommodate inside.  I was told this was not decided by Nick, rather the fire inspector on site determined that the building was not quite ready to safely take visitors.

So it was, on a cold Saturday morning, the neighborhood showed up in full, eager to see what the new community prize would look like.  And although all the visioning and questioning took place outside, the sentiment did not change, as folks seemed genuinely interested in the plans and even more so excited and ready to participate in the planning.

Voodoo Doughnuts made the morning freeze much more tolerable (thanks, Nick), and the back parking lot actually allowed for easy access to the architectural plans, as multiple blueprints of the building were on display.  Spread out across several tables, the blueprints were provided solely for display and to engage the crowd.  In fact, markers were provided for people to insert their own visions on to the blueprint.  In addition, there were two easels set up for people to leave comments and suggestions.  By far, the most common suggestion was “pizza, beer, and movies.”  It was clear that FoPo craves its own independent movie theater, where food and libations go together, a la the Laurelhurst, Bagdad, or Mission Theater.  I guess we all owe the McMenamin brothers thanks for that.

Nick doesn’t intend to be the next McMenamin’s, however.  He’s thinking much bigger than that, and all ideas are on the table, as they say.  Some of the other suggestions proposed by those attending were:  a rock-climbing wall in the back warehouse, an adjoining alleyway restaurant, an indoor skate park, and rental space for various performance artists.  Regardless of what takes shape, Nick is intent on making it useful for the community.  You are encouraged to sign up for the mailing list by emailing or joining the facebook page at

And naturally, any and all comments will be taken here, too.

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6 Responses to Bob White “open house” recap

  1. Jeremy Trabue says:

    I guess I gotta put myself in the “PLEASE ‘pizza beer and movies’ a la Laurelhurst or the Academy, etc” category.

    Not only because that’s what I’d be most likely to get out and see / do / enjoy on a regular basis personally, but also because I’m afraid anything more high-concept than that isn’t going to be economically viable and we’ll just end up with another empty storefront in a year or two.

    But… I guess I’m happy if ANYTHING happens there; I’d just be happiest if it was something I’d actually use and patronize myself. Whatever goes on I’ll be rooting for it.


  2. anonymous says:

    I totally agree with that last comment. Seriously! If you have the dough to buy a historic MOVIE THEATER, (and one of the last of it’s kind to boot) I dunno.. maybe I’m crazy, but perhaps you should PLAY MOVIES there. We don’t need another glow in the dark mini golf, rock climbing wall, or hipster electronica spazzotorium. Also, a place like the Aladdin Theater would be great, but I would probably not patronize that too often. I really think that you ought to take a long hard look at the success of the Laurelhurst Theater, and all the McMenamin’s establishments. 2nd run and classic movies would make money and breathe true life back into this old space.

    In a lot of ways I wish the McMenamin Bros DID buy this theater. Frustrating.

  3. You make valid points, Jeremy. It has to be sustainable, indeed. And who’s going to argue with pizza (perhaps from O’Malley’s?), beer, and movies? Not me.

    What’s exciting is that it’s possible to do a theater a la Laurelhurst, while still taking advantage of the huge warehouse space in back. Perhaps this is where some of the more alternative options can take shape.

    • Jeremy Trabue says:

      Yeah, not meaning to be negative; lots of love to the guy putting this together no matter what… I had a prior family commitment Saturday afternoon and couldn’t make it to the open [parking lot]. 🙂

      God bless all independent business people; I certainly don’t have the cojones to start or run my own business.

      But, since he (she? it? they?) was good enough to ask for input, I’m a-givin’ mine.


  4. Anon…

    I think it’s a tad early to be frustrated already. As nice as a McMenamin-style theater would be, no plan is set in stone, and this may be the route Nick ultimately goes. Or he could do something different altogether…and it can be even better than we imagined. Or worse. We don’t know. But at least he’s involving the community in the planning, and he’s from the neighborhood…that should go for something.

  5. Anti-m says:

    I am also of the opinion that the space would best be used as movie theater space. I think folks in the neighborhood are eager to have a space that draws people to the area as a destination, and it seems that second-run/indie/arthouse/grindhouse movies (see: Hollywood Theater) would be a proven means to accomplish this.

    I appreciate the impulse to incorporate other community-building missions / goals into the operation, but there is something to be said for a coherent / concise vision when it comes to launching an enterprise. Attempting to accommodate too many interests can dilute a business plan, and in many cases the best course of action is to pursue one or two goals singlemindedly and do those one or two things _really well_.

    (Not to mention that there is already a theater space on 55th and Foster that seems to be covering many multi-purpose catch-all categories.)

    Unfortunately I did not attend the open (evidently out in the open!) house, so I am not completely up-to-speed on how much non-theater space is included in the purchase. Some of that non-theater space should be dedicated to administrative space.

    If there is more than enough non-theater space to cover administrative needs, one elegant way to eventually segue into some more community-minded enterprise would be to establish some community film-making resources. (See: The NW Film Center)

    I still insist that a viable pizza-beer-movies venue would be the best place to start… and if that proves profitable, perhaps move into offering movie-making classes, supplies, equipment, etc. Class work could be screened at the theater.

    (Also I know a number of filmmakers / teachers who could help set such a thing up for low-overhead if it comes to that.) 🙂

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