The Crest Theatre will stay open as a film and performance venue through its Nov. 1 change in management and beyond, building owner Robert Emerick said.
Emerick is taking over the theater’s operation from longtime tenant CSLM, after the two sides failed to reach agreement on a lease. Emerick’s fiancée, Yulya Borroum, will manage the theater as of Nov. 1.
“We are not going to change the Crest,” said Emerick, who, like Borroum, is an engineer by profession. “The look and the feel will be much the same. We are just looking at a few enhancements that will recognize current trends.”
Emerick said he and Borroum are looking at bringing in a digital cinema projector, and at other “exciting business models” for independent movie theaters, he said.
“We are not planning on being a first-run movie house, but we do plan on having a lot more independent, non-mainstream cinema options in the future,” he said.
The new operators are “investigating” the Alamo Drafthouse model of serving meals, beer and wine with movies, Emerick said.
Emerick and Borroum already co-own the gourmet vegetarian restaurant Mother, which is part of the swath of K Street property Emerick purchased, with the Crest, in 2011. Emerick said construction on his next project with Mother chef Michael Thiemann, the Empress Tavern, might start next week.
The Empress Tavern, which Emerick said will serve “rotisserie meats and micro-brewed beers,” will occupy the vacated Crest basement space that once held two small movie theaters.
“That restaurant will support the Crest Theatre,” Emerick said. “When community organizations make use of the Crest, they have options available that weren’t available in the past.”
Among community organizations who regularly use the Crest are local film festivals. A few, including the Sacramento Japanese Film Festival, already agreed to stay next year.
Borroum and Emerick met with a group of festival directors a few weeks ago. The theater’s new operators seem “to really want the film festivals to stay,” said Japanese Film Festival committee chairwoman Barbara Kado, who was at the meeting. “They were doing their best to accommodate our needs.”
“We are not trying to take one single (existing) festival out of the Crest,” Emerick said.
Though Emerick and Borroum lack experience running a theater, Emerick sits on the board of Sacramento’s recently reopened Verge Center for the Arts.
“I helped the other board members come up with a plan for making that organization and that facility sustainable, and we helped raise the money to rehab that building as well,” Emerick said.
He and Borroum also have developed “very capable teams who do big projects,” he said. They plan to apply this experience to building a team of managers at the Crest.
“We envision there will be a person in charge of our cinema program, and someone in charge of our concert-promotion program,” Emerick said. “And someone – it might be Yulya directly, or Yulya in charge of someone – managing our community-events program.”