Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Now Pouring at The Bing: Liquor Laws loosen up for small theaters.

 

A Standing Ovation

Ovations to enter the Spokane stage

by Laurie L. Ross

 

If you’ve recently attended a
show at the Bing Crosby Theater in downtown
Spokane, you may have been surprised
that they now serve alcohol. That’s right;
beer and wine are available before, during
and now after shows. Call it a concession
stand for adults, but it’s a game changer
for small cinemas. The transition occurred
when Washington State liquor laws were
loosened early this year, for theaters that met
a certain criteria. The Bing met the small
luxury theater criteria and started pouring at
the lobby concession in spring of 2013. This
change in law provides a unique draw for
small, often independently owned theaters
that compete with huge multiplex cinemas.
 
Photo Credit : Bing Crosby Theater The Bing Crosby Theater presents Ovations - 100' of windows, an incredible ribbon staircase and the best service in Spokane.

The big news is that premiering July 2013
at The Bing is Ovations, a swanky lounge
nestled on the second floor of the theater.
The newly established gathering place boasts
100 feet of windows that span the length of the space
and an impressive high atrium ceiling, which
adds a distinct drama. Upon arrival to the
theater, take the elegantly curved ribbon staircase up
from the entrance lobby, and you will have
arrived. Similar to the theater, Ovations is an
intimate space with an exclusive capacity of
just 50. Ovations offers beer and wine, as well
as non-alcoholic beverages. Choices such as,
a seasonal fruit and cheese plate, hummus
platter and a tasty avocado dip are some of
the items available to accompany drinks.
The plan is to offer wine and light appetizers
with a spotlight on cheese and chocolate.
Ovations provides the ideal place to meet up
before or after a show. A live performance is
always special but it makes going to a movie
more of an event. Ovations could also be the
finale to the evening, a place to recap the
magic of a live performance with a nightcap.
 
The treasured theater has always been
special. It was placed on the Spokane
Register of Historic Places in 1990 and the
national register in 1998. The architecture is
stunning and the setting is intimate. Careful
consideration was put in when adding
Ovations to the historic building. The Bing
is a great way to experience the arts in an up
close and personal way that no other area
venue provides. It’s a place where there truly
isn’t a bad seat in the house and with recent
improvements the sound is even better than
before. The draw of Ovations and the ability
to partake in a celebratory drink simply add
to the experience.
 
With this recent addition of libations,
it inspires the idea of pairing drinks with
shows. For instance, Blues and Brews - A
smooth IPA sounds appropriate while
listening to the cool blues of Jonny Lang,
a stellar performer who plays The Bing in
mid July. Or one may suggest a sexy South
American wine such as a sultry Argentinean
Malbec, which pairs perfectly with the Latin
influenced music of Ottmar Liebert and
Luna Negra. This act is back by popular
demand in August. The Bing has also earned
a solid reputation for showing second-run
movies such a Ghostbusters or The Thomas
Crown Affair. Depending if it’s a John Hughes cult
classic (beer) or original Bond movie (bubbly)
you have now have options to enhance your
experience by perfectly pairing drinks with shows.
The combinations are endless.
 
The theater, which opened as the Clemmer
in 1915, helped legendary singer Bing Crosby
launch his career. The former Metropolitan
Mortgage & Securities Co. bought the theater
and renovated it for a reopening in 1988 as
the Metropolitan Theater of Performing Arts,
or The Met. Local Businessman Mitch Silver
acquired the theater in 2004 and agreed with Bing
Crosby fans to rename the theater the Bing in
2006 to commemorate Spokane’s beloved stage,
screen and recording star. Current owner Jerry
Dicker’s acquisition in early 2012 came through
his GVD Commercial Properties Inc. The beloved
theater has since then received some well-needed
restoration and technical improvements. One
thing that has remained the same since 1988 is
the venue’s General Manager, Michael Smith.
Witnessing 25 years of shows first hand, Smith
could double as the theater historian. Adding
liquor sales to the ticket allows for shows not to
depend on breaking even based on the ticket price
alone. This is exciting.
 
Dicker has become an important developer
in Spokane who is interested in revitalizing the
downtown core. He came to Spokane in 2000
from California to be near his grandchildren.
Since his arrival, he has collected a few properties
in and around Spokane to add to his out of town
repertoire. A block to the south at First Avenue
and Lincoln Street is the artsy Hotel Ruby and
Sapphire Lounge. It was formally a 1950 motor
inn that was an eyesore in the stylish Davenport
district. This was Dicker’s debut project as he
revamped it with a hip and modern facelift to
the now trendy boutique hotel, complete with
a cozy yet equally fashionable bar called The
Sapphire Lounge. The well-attended lounge with
experienced barkeepers and tasty light fare made
adding Ovations to The Bing an almost natural
endeavor. The property development team already
knew how to do a classy cozy bar and all that was
needed was to translate it into the historic theater.
 
Bravo! We offer a standing ovation and look
forward to an encore performance of drinks and a show.

Ovations will be located in the Bing Crosby Theater,
901 W Sprague Ave., Spokane, WA 99201, (509)227-7638

Laurie L. Ross is the author of the popular local wine blog, sipofspokane.com


Published in the July/August 2013 issue of 
Spokane Coeur d'Alene Living magazine
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