Category Archives: Tacoma Places

5 Question Friday With Josh Evans from Narrows 8 Theatres

narrowsI grew up in Tacoma. I went to Wilson High School. And when I went to the movies, I went to Narrow Plaza and the Narrows 8 Theatres. Unfortunately as movie theaters evolved the Narrows 8 did not. Soon thanks to lack of stadium seating and subpar sound system, Narrows 8 closed down. Since then, it’s sat empty. But there are a group of people trying to change that and bring Narrows 8 back to University Place and Tacoma, but they need your help. I contacted Josh Evans about this and he was more than happy to share his vision of what could become the best movie theater in Tacoma. Here’s Josh:

1. What is JRE Digital Cinemas?

JRE Digital Cinemas Inc. is a family owned corporation legally formed in the state of Montana November of 2013 and relocated to Washington March 2014. Our ultimate goal is to offer affordable entertainment to the masses. My name is Joshua Evans and I serve as CEO for the company, taking the vision of all of our share holders (myself, my father Martin Evans, Mother Pamella Evans, Brother Daniel Evans and our sister Sarah Evans) and forming a solid plan to see that vision become a reality. I originally had the idea so form a company with my family when I returned from Connecticut in 2012. Having operated a 10 screen sub run theater in a competitive market against a Regal Entertainment Cinema I learned valuable information about the cinema exhibition industry and gained insight into what creates a working business model in that industry. My former business partner and I were not able to make our cinema in Connecticut a success because we were under capitalized and the transition to digital projection was well underway. Unfortunately, the finances to make the transition were just not available to us at that time.

I originally showed interest in the former 8 screen first run theatre located on Mildred street in University Place Washington, I believe in June of last year. I had talked with my family and we decided to form a corporation for the purpose of eventually re-opening this cinema. We discussed the cost of the renovations and the level of funding needed, at that time we had no idea of the condition of the building, furniture or equipment in the building. We later found out that the building has been all but gutted by the previous operator.  Our main focus was to revitalize this cinema, create a locally owned and operated location that would be a benefit to the community and surrounding businesses. I Know first hand what losing a destination draw like a cinema can do to surrounding restaurants and local businesses that rely on that foot traffic for revenue. I knew that other businesses on Mildred street had to have been suffering and seen a decline in businesses since this cinema closed. With that in mind we started piecing together a plan to reopen the cinema and help to bring back those lost customers to the area, thus, JRE Digital Cinemas Inc. was born. The name is derived in memoriam from my late sister’s initials: Jennifer Rae Evans (JRE).

 

My father Martin has been on disability for most of my life, struggling with Multiple-sclerosis and still trying to earn enough money to support our family. Right now they live on a very tight fixed income and each time dad has attempted to re-enter the work force he ends up losing that battle due to his illness. He needs something that can be flexible enough so that when he has episodes of MS he doesn’t have to hit the pavement yet again. Employers love my dad. He is intelligent, hardworking, and dedicated but the limitations of his body make it difficult to stay productive at a full-time job. We, in part, wanted to form this company so that he can be involved in something that can provide certain flexibilities and still remain a productive member of society and provide for his family. So when you ask what JRE Digital Cinemas is I have one simple answer: it is Desire, Passion, and Love. Desire to provide for one’s family and take care of the people who love and support you. Passion to provide the community an entertainment destination that families and people of all income levels can enjoy. Love of our community, family, and loyal customers.
 2. What’s the current status of the Narrow 8 Theatre?

We have researched the location, condition and funding requirements to make this dream a reality. We believe the local community will support this theatre when it reopens. It needs a lot of work! The building currently has no concession counter, seats, screens or equipment. Most of the carpet has been damaged or removed. We would need to install new digital projection. As far as the project itself, we need help and I’m not afraid to reach out to the local community for that help. We need to secure funds of at very minimum $50,000 in order to secure funding to repair the interior, replace seats and to install new equipment. Our goal also includes upgrades to the auditoriums including “retro-fit foam risers” (http://www.stadiumseating.com/solutions.php) to provide for stadium style seating. We have put together a rough estimate for building repairs and upgrades and have come up with a number that will allow us to accomplish all of our goals. The total funding required to get the cinema open is around $750,000. We plan to reach out to the local economic development organizations within pierce county and also at the state level. We also plan to utilize SBA backed loans but the required “Down Payment” needed would be in the 10-15% range, and cannot be borrowed, meaning, we can’t simply ask one lender to loan the funds needed to secure financing from another lender.

We fully believe it IS possible to make this project a reality. If the community would rally behind us and support our Indiegogo campaign, or a wealthy community member wanted to be a partner in our venture we could secure the required funds. We hope by getting our vision and story out to the public supporters of this project will come forward and help us out.
3. What’s different about what you want to do to the Narrows 8 Theatre?

The thing about operating a cinema in a competitive market is you HAVE to offer something unique compared to other theatres. What we have in mind is fairly simple: we plan to be a community hub. A locally owned and operated cinema involved in community activities, offering support to other local businesses all while keeping the consumer in mind when making business decisions. We want everyone in University Place and surrounding areas to feel like this is their theatre not some chain that won’t take the time to hear your feedback or get to know you by name.

We also plan to have a few things not commonly found in major chain theatres. We want to bring different ideas to light at this location like self-serve drink stations, free refills on soda, and even a coffee shop located inside the lobby offering fraps, blended coffee drinks and smoothies. We also offer traditional movie concessions at much lower prices than most chains and unique treats you probably wouldn’t find in most cinemas.

We want to reach out to the local community and hold events at our cinema. A few things that set us apart in Connecticut included hosting a film and music festival featuring only Connecticut films either filmed in Connecticut or directed by a Connecticut resident and showcasing only Connecticut based bands and musicians. We also hosted a launch party for a group of film students who had produced a full feature film. We offered a venue for them to show the film to potential distributors and backers to get the film on contract for distribution. This type of community involvement is usually only seen at local cinemas with a connection to the community.

Let’s talk a little more about “affordability” and what that means for the Narrows 8 Theatre. Ticket prices will be $6.00 matinee (before 3pm) and $10 evening, 3D films would be $8.50 matinee and $12.50 evening. Every Tuesday will be “DiscountTuesday” offering ticket prices at $6.00 all day (3D would be $2.50 additional). Concession deals like a “$3.00 Any Size Popcorn” would be a regularly occurring promotion and our boxed candy would also be lower than most first run theatres. At times in our previous cinema we had candy deals, $2.00 a box during peak times throughout the year. Local movie goers can expect to see punch cards similar to what you would find at a drive-thru coffee shop where ticket purchases would earn you FREE movie passes. We are aggressive with social media deals and coupons as well as free movie pass giveaways . Group ticket prices for large groups like childcare facilities, non-profits, schools, and summer youth programs have always held a top priority in our business model. In short, our “uniqueness” comes from operating a full-scale first-run cinema as a small, local business, and for the community to treat it as such.
4. How can people interested in this project help out?

First and foremost the easiest way to help is to spread the word about us. Tell everyone you know and then tell them again! You can reach our facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/Narrows8Theatres or follow us on twitter at:https://twitter.com/narrows8theatre.

Secondly, we have an online crowd funding campaign on Indiegogo. Contributors can essentially “pre-purchase” products and services anywhere from coupons, movie passes, t-shirts to collector’s merchandise and on-screen advertising space. The link to the campaign is https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/narrows-8-digital-theatres or you can visit www.indiegogo.com and search for “Narrows 8 Theatres”. Place a small contribution of $5-$5,000 and once we have reached the end of our campaign we will start delivering the contribution “perks” and get the ball rolling to get the theatre open.

Lastly, if you would like to discuss becoming an equity partner or even just to drop me a line about the theatre please email me at jevans91775@gmail.com.

5. What do you see as the future for Narrows 8 Theatre?

We see a successful venture between the community and ourselves. We plan to grow with the industry and constantly improve the cinema going experience for patrons of the Narrows 8 Digital Theatres. We want to become an integral part of the community backed by the support of the people. We plan on being involved with local issues, events, and programs. We see ourselves as a viable business, creating jobs and providing tax dollars for the state and city to fund much needed projects. We see a place where patrons can go and feel safe, comfortable, and a part of something great.

We love getting to know our customers on a personal level, what a difference it makes in customer service. It’s almost funny how a person reacts when they visit a movie theatre and see the owner behind the counter making popcorn or maybe tearing your ticket or even cleaning theatres after shows saying: “Thank you for coming to our theatre! We hope you enjoyed your movie! See you next time!”

We look forward to seeing each and every one of you at the Narrows 8 Digital Theatres!

I’d like to thank Josh for taking the time to fill us in on his vision and I hope readers will help out. This is a project that deserves to be funded.

As always, if you or someone you know would like to join me for 5 Question Friday, let me know at jackcameronis@gmail.com

-       Jack Cameron

Morning In Tacoma

This photo is actually a combination of six photos I took from my phone yesterday morning using my phone. It was taken from the office building I work in.

This photo is actually a combination of six photos I took from my phone yesterday morning using my phone. It was taken from the office building I work in.

5 Question Friday With The NEW Poison Apple’s Jooley Heaps

poisonappleThis week is a first. After three years of doing 5 Question Friday we have our first three-time participant. We’d stop asking her questions if she’d stop doing awesome stuff. Jooley Heaps once ran a wonderfully strange shop in downtown Tacoma called Poison Apple. Sadly, the location wasn’t very conducive to massive sales. Since then Jooley and Poison Apple has existed by vending at various local events. But now Jooley and Poison Apple have a new home. And their grand opening is TODAY. Here’s Jooley to tell you more about it.

1. Poison Apple is back. What can you tell us about the new location?

We are now located inside Freighthouse Square, across from Sasquatch Cinnamon Rolls. Our new neighbors at The Giving Place and Vapor Works have also been very kind to us. Past the food court is Justin Winter at American Ritual Tattoo and his girlfriend Michelle. And of course my old pal Pete Lira is moving in this summer. Everyone has been very welcoming and it is exciting to start our new retail adventure here.

 

2. What’s different about Poison Apple this time around?

What we did this time was fuse together what worked for us before- a mix of rock and roll, punk, horror, etc with pop culture and a throwback to the vintage culture I adore. We have a great selection of kitsch items, clothing, shoes and all sorts of colorful fun items that can only be found here

 

3. How can people help out Poison Apple?

Thanks to social networking sites like Facebook many people have shared our event. I believe this location will be a good fit for us because there is daily walk thru traffic which what was a major issue with Pacific Avenue.

 

4. What’s your favorite thing about running Poison Apple?

My favorite thing about Poison Apple is that it is a colorful vision that we made happen. I have a dedicated crew in Jason Emmett and Jennifer Walter, and we each bring something to the table and all complement each other. While wearing ‘handerpants’ of course. I’d definitely say that there is nothing out there in Tacoma like it, and it makes me smile because it’s hilarious and always evolving into more.

 

5. What do you hope for the future of Poison Apple?

As far as the future- aim high! We are about to also start our busy vending schedule so of course the more events the merrier:) and I’d love to have success with the shop and possibly open a second location. Like I said. Aim high:).

 

I’d like to thank Jooley Heaps for participating in 5 Question Friday and for bringing Poison Apple back to Tacoma. If you or someone you know is interested in joining me for 5 Question Friday, let me know at jackcameronis@gmail.com

-       Jack Cameron

5 Question Friday With Christina Wheeler of the Nearsighted Narwhal

logoI just released a new edition of my self-destruct book, Ruin Your Life. I wrote it, formatted it, created the cover, and published it. I’m a publisher as well as a writer. Later this year, I’m releasing an ebook about running Kickstarter campaigns and a Tacoma-based crime novel. When it comes to Tacoma and publishing, I’m very interested in the things going on in this town. So when I heard about the Nearsighted Narwhal I reached out to Christina Wheeler, the mastermind behind the Nearsighted Narwhal.

Here’s Christina:

1. What is The Nearsighted Narwhal?

The Nearsighted Narwhal is a storefront that is planning on opening in the summer of 2014. Spaceworks has accepted our application and will be helping to place us in a vacant storefront sometime this summer.

Our main focus is on self-publishing. We are a consignment store for anyone who has ever printed their own books, zines, music, comics, or made their own CDs . We will also have a zine/comic creation area in the store along with workshops on self-publishing and the myriad facets of putting your words or art out in the mainstream. We’ll also have a listening station set up to listen to-and buy-local music. We plan on having special events such as open mic nights, musical performances, 24 hour zine/comic making events in which the store will stay open for a full day to accommodate the creators, along with a lot of other fun stuff.

Though our main focus is publishing, we also want to lend a helping hand to people that create other tangible items. We will have a consignment area for these individuals and groups that make buttons, patches, stickers, jewelry, t-shirts, posters, or whatever else the lovely creative community of Tacoma has to offer us. We are open to it all as long as it is handmade.

Our store will also feature visual art from local artists that will be on consignment.

2. What makes this different than other publication companies? 

We are interested in the “little guy”, those individuals that get looked over even though their wares maybe be brilliant and amazing, in favor of more mainstream media. We believe that these underground publishers, these people that choose to take the path less traveled in order to pursue their passions…these are the people that need to be celebrated. They are an untapped creative resource and we’re here to shed some light on them. We want to show people that you don’t need a big publishing contract-though those are nice-to be successful and get your name out there.

Another thing that makes us different is that, as individuals, we are also self-publishers. My partner, Ossain, and I have been in the self-publishing business for years. We understand on an intrinsic level the difficulties that many of these people face on a day-to-day basis and we’re here to help. By opening this store and getting the word out to people who might skip right over the independent publishing shelf at the local bookstore full of mainstream authors, we’re bringing the focus on the people who aren’t censored by editors and publishing company politics. It’s pure unfiltered talent and we’re excited as hell to be able to help.

3. What can people do if they’re interested in participating? 

You can contact us through Facebook, through e-mail (thenearsightednarwhal@gmail.com), through Twitter #Narwhal253, or through our website www.thenearsightednarwhal.com. Once you contact us we will send you the consignment agreement to be completed and signed and given back along with whatever it is you’d like us to sell. That’s it. Super easy.

4. What other local independent artist causes interest you? 

We’re always interested in community building and drumming up interest in the vast well of artistic talent that resides in Tacoma. We’re especially fans of the Art Bus, Creative Colloquy, or any other business or venture that promotes community and focuses on the artist and not turning them into a machine that cranks out works like they’re in front of a conveyor belt.

5. What would you like to see for the future of The Nearsighted Narwhal?

We’d love to be one of the many agents of change in Tacoma for the self-publishers, artists, and other crafty folk. We’d love to spur Tacoma on its way to recognizing the many different talents that this city harbors.

We’d like to be fully established as the self-publisher’s landmark in Tacoma that can help with promoting the DIY community and be involved in the zine festival circuit at some point in the near future. Ideally we envision our store as a place a customer can come to and pick up a zine, a book, a comic, have a cup of coffee, listen to some local music talent, read from their works in front of a crowd of like-minded individuals, eat some locally made goodies, make a button, take a workshop on an area of self-publishing they need help on, and be filled with wonder at the thought of Tacoma being so amazing. Because, you know…it totally is.

I want to thank Christian for joining me for 5 Question Friday. For more information on the Nearsighted Narwhal, check out their website www.thenearsightednarwhal.com.

If you or someone you know wants to participate in 5 Question Friday, drop me a line at jackcameronis@gmail.com.

-       Jack Cameron

An Open Letter To Washington State Governor Jay Inslee

iceGovernor Inslee,

As you are no doubt aware we have an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Detention Center here in Tacoma. It currently houses 1,300 people. Most of these people are illegal immigrants. The vast majority of these individuals are not violent criminals. It is a facility to hold individuals until they can be processed and released or deported.

The Detention Center in Tacoma is run by a for-profit company called the GEO Group. The GEO Group is a global for-profit prison company. They are the second largest for-profit prison company in the United States and have more than 95 facilities.

A quick look into the GEO Group finds that when it comes to immigration, the GEO Group is at the forefront of funding anti-immigration legislation. The Associated Press found that the GEO Group is one of several for-profit prison companies that contributed tens of millions of dollars towards anti-immigration lobbyists and candidates.

It’s in their best interests that we lock up as many people as possible for as long as possible. That’s how they make their money. And so they are literally influencing new anti-immigration law in order to lock more people up in their facilities. That alone should be disturbing to anyone as it goes contrary to the basic concept of our rule of law.

However, that’s not all that’s wrong with the GEO Group. A woman in a Texas facility reported being raped by male inmates and shortly after that committed suicide. In March of 2007, her family won a settlement against the GEO Group.

The GEO Group-run Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility in Mississippi is a place where in 2010 the ACLU and the Southern Poverty Law Center issued a legal complaint alleging that the juveniles there (67% of them there for non-violent offenses) were “kicked and punched while handcuffed, and others have been stripped naked and placed in solitary confinement for weeks;”

One need only put the words ‘GEO Group’ and ‘Abuse’ into a Google Search to quickly find a litany of abuse complaints including horrific conditions, inedible food, sexual assault, rape, physical abuse, and death.

Recently, as many as 750 of the inmates in the ICE facility in Tacoma began a hunger strike citing poor conditions. I fear Tacoma may soon be added to the growing list of cities where for-profit prison abuses have resulted in unwanted headlines. It’s clear that this company is not a company that should be making money in Washington State.

Governor Inslee, I recognize the need for a facility such as the detention center here in Tacoma. However, it should not be run by a for-profit company with a lengthy history of corruption and abuse.

Recently you put a stay on executions in this state because you found that the law might not have been applied fairly. I urge you to seek a solution to this situation that gets for-profit prisons out of our state. These companies thrive on taxpayer dollars by locking up our people for as long as possible.

-          Jack Cameron

UPDATE: Sign my petition to Governor Inslee to shut down for-profit prisons in this state.
http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/shut-down-for-profit-1.fb58?source=c.fb&r_by=2851726

5 Question Friday With Tony, Owner of Little Jerry’s

lj2Last December my girlfriend suggested we have breakfast at a place called Little Jerry’s. I knew nothing about it. I looked it up and found the address. It wasn’t too far from the South Tacoma neighborhood I grew up in, but even knowing where it was and what I was looking for, I must admit I initially drove by the place. Then I turned around and we walked into a classic diner with an outright obsession with the TV Show, Seinfeld.  It also turned out to be one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had.

Whenever I find an awesome place in Tacoma, I want to share it with the world. And so I asked the owner of Little Jerry’s, a guy named Tony, to join me for 5 Question Friday. Here’s Tony:

1. What is Little Jerry’s?

Little Jerry’s is a breakfast & lunch joint. We serve skillets, breakfast stackers, outrageous burgers and sandwiches. . . COME EAT!

2. What makes Little Jerry’s different?

Little Jerry’s is different because of our perspective. . . we don’t fit the standard restaurant or diner mold. We make food that we love to eat in an environment that we love. . . Seinfeld.

3. Why Seinfeld?

We chose Seinfeld because it is and has been our favorite show. Its content relates to so many people even today, 15 years after its final show. It also has so many correlations with food, and around eating, it all just fell into place.

4. What should someone order if it’s their first time at Little Jerry’s?

Someone should definitely try one of our breakfast stackers for breakfast which takes your home fries or hash browns, topped with an English muffin or biscuit, topped with breakfast meat, eggs, and topped with either country gravy or hollandaise. At lunchtime, “The Mimbo” is by far the most popular, a 1/3# burger, fried egg, bacon, nestled between two grilled cheese sandwiches. . . so good!

5. What would you like to see for the future of Little Jerry’s?

We would like to see continued growth and success within our neighborhood, and grow with our customers and their families. We want to serve generation after generation. I want to hear people say, “I came here as a kid too.”

I’d like to thank Tony for taking the time to participate in 5 Question Friday. If you’re a local or even if you’re just passing through town, you owe it to yourself to stop by. I highly recommend it. Little Jerry’s is located at 8233 South Park Ave. If you’re heading towards 84th Street from the direction of the Mall it’s on the left hand side.

littlejerrrys

You can also find Little Jerry’s online at http://www.littlejerrys.com/ 
on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/LittleJerrys or on Twitter @LittleJerrys_

If you or someone you know would like to participate in 5 Question Friday, drop me a line at jackcameronis@gmail.com.

-          Jack Cameron

Jack and Mimi’s Cheap Date: Pacific Grill and Old Milwaukee Cafe

Chad and Pat, owners of the Old Milwaukee Cafe

Chad and Pat, owners of the Old Milwaukee Cafe

For the third installment of Jack and Mimi’s Cheap Date, Mimi and I had decided to go to the Pacific Grill. I had heard they had a new menu and I wanted to go someplace nice. Not to mention, I’d been meaning to go to dinner at Pacific Grill ever since owner and chef, Gordon Naccarato was kind enough to join me for 5 Question Friday last year.

We arrived Friday night without a reservation and sat at the bar until there was a table ready for us. We looked over the menu which included many small plates that were intended to be shared family style. Mimi and I talked about how to work this into the rules of ‘Jack and Mimi’s Cheap Date’ which are that we order the two cheapest entrees on the menu. And then something happened.

“I don’t care what we do next,” Mimi said, “but no matter what I’m ordering the Soy Whiskey Whiskey Chicken.”

This was not the cheapest thing on the menu but at $8.95 it was also not the most expensive.  The description said “chicken thighs marinated in soy, garlic, bourbon + ginger w/ smoky sweet potato salad.“  I entirely understood why Mimi wanted it.  However, since rules are rules, it was clear that we were no longer on a ‘Cheap Date’. And so I ordered a full plate of ‘Stan the Man’s Killer Clam Linguine’ for $24.

Mimi’s chicken was tender and juicy, but the real treat was the smoked potato salad. The clams in my clam linguine were crazy good and the full plate was indeed full. Luckily I had a big appetite. Later, Gordon stopped by our table and we finally met face to face. He told us how the dish I was eating was named for his father, Stan Naccarato who used to make that dish all the time when Gordon was younger.

Mimi and I had a great dinner at a great place, but we still had a column to write. We were too full of good food to go somewhere else. So Saturday morning we decided we’d fix this problem by having ‘Jack & Mimi’s Cheap Breakfast’.

And so we went to Tacoma’s Old Milwaukee Café on 6th Ave. Mimi had been telling me about this place for weeks and I’d never been there. Located at 3102 S. 6th Ave., the Old Milwaukee has been a local favorite for fourteen years. It’s run by a couple named Pat and Chad. She waits tables. He cooks. There are eight tables and the whole place probably couldn’t fit more than twenty people in it comfortably.

When we arrived around 9am on Saturday morning, all of the tables were taken and there were a couple of people already waiting. We needed a table for three as Mimi’s mother had chosen to join us for breakfast. While there was no list, Pat made it clear that we were to sit when and where she wanted us to sit. As she put it, “I’ve got you handled.”  We were seated after 15 minutes.

Mimi ordered two eggs sunny side up along with home fries and English muffins for $6.99. I ordered thick sliced bacon and scrambled eggs with hash browns and English muffins for $8.99. We also had coffee.

The atmosphere in the place was friendly though I noticed a few parties arrive and leave as they saw that the entire place was packed. Unfortunately Mimi had to work at ten and ended up leaving before our food had arrived. We let the waitress know that while Mimi was leaving, we’d still be bringing the food to her.

My bacon and eggs arrived. The first thing I noticed was that they weren’t kidding about the thick sliced bacon. It was good, thick, and tasty. The hash browns were just that right balance of crunchy but not burned.

When it came time to go, our waitress had the cook freshly make Mimi’s eggs. I asked Mimi later what she thought of the food to go. She said, “I liked it. It’s also the simplest thing I’ve eaten there.”

So there you have it. Jack & Mimi’s Cheap Date didn’t go exactly as planned, but I think in this case that was mostly a good thing.

-          Jack Cameron

Jack & Mimi’s Cheap Date by the numbers:

Pacific Grill
Address: 1502 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, WA 98402
Soy Whiskey Chicken: $8.95
Stan The Man’s Killer Clam Linguine: $24

Old Milwaukee Cafe
3102 6th Ave., Tacoma, WA 98406
Two Eggs: $6.99
Thick Sliced Bacon and Eggs: $8.99

*Note: Jack & Mimi’s Cheap Date does not include drinks, tax, or tip. I’m a bit of a drink snob, tips are very subjective, and sales tax is 9.5% for those who need exact numbers.