In some ways, The Bob White Theatre is symbolic of the neighborhood it dwells in. Just as Foster Road staggered for several years (decades) after a once-bustling heyday, the Bob White sat vacant for the better part of three decades…until just a few years ago when Nick Storie bought it. Now it represents a soon-to-be changing Foster—one filled with promise, uncertainty, and a lot of hope. And sometimes that hope is cloaked in our own ideas of what it should be (we’ve certainly expressed ours). In actuality, it is a performance venue that shows great promise, but may also be prone to some disappointment and a few fits and starts along the way. Fortunately, we’re not tasked with that burden, and someone else has stepped up to bring life to the theater. Today we get to meet the men behind its hopeful resurgence.
1. Knowing our neighbors makes for a brighter and safer community. Who are you, and what is your connection to the neighborhood (resident, business owner, neighborhood advocate, etc)?
“We are the new owners/managers of the Bob White Theatre. My name is Zachariah White, and my business partner is Alex Santos.”
2. How long have you lived or worked in the neighborhood, and what do you think makes it unique?
“I have lived in the area for about two years, and we have been operating the theatre since October of 2013. Every neighborhood in Portland has its own identifiable characteristics, and Foster Powell is no exception. When we look at it, and live it, we see exciting potential.”
3. What are your favorite neighborhood haunts (for food, shopping, walks, drinking, entertainment, etc)?
“We wouldn’t want to leave anyone out. We have visited the bars, restaurants, markets, and shops within a five block radius of our theatre, and we have found them all to be above par in their quality of service and awareness of their community.”
4. It’s a fact, our neighborhood is pretty rad. How do we keep it that way…and then some (i.e. enhance our parks, more n’hood events, more businesses, less tweakers, etc)?
“We hope to become a cultural hub for this neighborhood, bringing live music, dance parties, theatrical performances, movies, art, and entertainment in general. Our hope is to attract a wider range of people to this area, so that we can bring in more new clientele for our local business friends. By business friends I mean everyone in the neighborhood. I think that if we can do our part to raise awareness of the FoPo neighborhood, we can help each other grow.
5. If you had a bajillion dollars (ok, a million) to spend on Foster, what would you do with it?
“I would make it prettier. It has a bit of an urban sprawl thing going on in parts, and I would do simple things like bring in more roadside trees and little points of green interest to catch the eye. It would give it more of a lively neighborhood feel.”
6. If you could pick a theme song for the neighborhood, or choose a celebrity that best exemplifies the character of it, what/who would it be?
“The theme song for Requiem for a Dream. It should be the theme song from Mister Rodger’s Neighborhood. We’ll get there loves, we will get there.”
*** Thanks to Alex and Zachariah for sharing. We’ve offered our fair share of criticism over certain events and the growing pains one sees in such a venture, but we’re also open minded about the promise these two can help the Bob White realize. While we’ve been quick to judge, we’re quicker to recognize the positive impact this theater can have on the surrounding neighborhood. And as such, it’s important that you get involved if you take an interest in its success.