SEASIDE — After closing its doors almost 30 years ago, the historic Times Theater could come back to life early next year.
The theater, which sits at the corner of Broadway and Columbia Street, is most recognizable for the giant postcard mural painted on its walls. It originally opened in 1941 and is one of the city’s most historic buildings.
The Times played the day’s most popular movies before the previous owner, Don McMurdie, decided not to renew the lease in 1989.
Now the property owners from TD&M Enterprises have plans to restore and renovate the theater into a brew pub and event space, with the possibility of live entertainment, sports viewing and even some second-run movies.
“The space already has a cool feel. It just has to be upgraded,” Mark Utti, the company’s president, said. “Someone has already asked about having a wedding in there.”
TD&M Enterprises, which also operates other restaurants like the Twisted Fish Steakhouse and Finn’s Fish House, has owned the property for many years, Utti said. But the inspiration to bring the space back to life came after Utti met Vince Berg, a local brewer, through mutual business acquaintances earlier this year.
The two were looking at existing locations owned by TD&M Enterprises until they started exploring and conceptualizing the idea of what a brew pub would look like in the old theater.
“The timing felt right,” Utti said.
But turning the theater solely into a brew pub just didn’t feel right, Utti said. Walking inside is like stepping into a time machine, with a much of the original 1940s architecture still intact. Many of the other features, such as the water fountains, old film equipment and reels, signage and even a movie poster from 1951, remain intact from a bygone era.
“When you look at the architecture, you just think, ‘God, I just can’t rip this out.’ But opening up a single-plex movie theater is not enough revenue alone, so we need additional revenue sources,” Utti said.
They aim to keep the old theater’s aesthetic, though some parts of the building will have to be renovated after 30 years of dormancy, Utti said.
Marketing director Marla Olstedt said the people she has spoken with are excited about the fact it’s staying a theater at all.
“This is a unique project because the locals are excited. It’s in the heart of downtown Seaside, and there is automatic foot traffic,” Olstedt said. “It will be exciting to watch the collaboration between the brew pub and the theater.”
What beers will be brewed and what type of food will be on the menu is still under consideration, but the name of the brew pub, Sisu Brewing Co., is firmly rooted in their plans, as well as Utti’s family heritage.
“Sisu is an undefinable Finnish word. Loosely, it’s a term for perseverance, grit, stubbornness. It defines the character of the Finnish people,” Utti said.
Olstedt added that it also represents the hardiness of the people who live year-round on the Oregon Coast.
“Anyone who has experienced a winter here knows this,” she said.
For now, the company is focused on moving in brewing equipment by September to get ready for a January opening.
“We’re excited to get started,” Utti said.