Gaslight Reborn -August 2019

by: Brian Bushard

photography by: Bill Hoenk

Callie Kever and Caleb Cressman sat behind the bar, turning their heads to the newly-completed stage behind them, and the restaurant tables to their right, imagining how the night would play out and making final preparations for the dinner rush. It was the culmination of two years’ work: The conversion of the former Starlight movie theater into The Gaslight was complete.

On Dec. 31, 2017, the Starlight Theater and Café, a North Union Street go-to for drinks, a movie and an occasional show, shut its doors for the last time. The old theater and café sat empty for a year and a half, after a nearly 40-year run.

The bar, and a wall of mounted stereo components behind it, are new to the space, which had been segmented into several rooms for dining and watching films in the former Starlight Theater.

There had been rumors circulating around town about its probable closing, talk that the movie industry made it difficult for independent theaters to survive financially. Cressman and Kever heard those rumors and had their own idea.

That was to transition it into a music venue, bar and restaurant, bringing in Nautilus’ Liam Mackey and Clinton Terry to run the restaurant side of the operation, and preserving a downtown legacy of live music that had mostly moved to mid-island venues. It came to fruition on a Thursday night in June, when the doors to the new venue opened for the first time. Its name, The Gaslight, is a tribute to the original name of the former theater, founded by Rob Mitchell..

“We wanted some place where you could go post-dinner, or even where you could grab dinner and watch a show,” Kever said. “You could even just be popping your head in, not even drinking, and listen to some live music, that’s what we wanted to do. There’s nothing else like that downtown.”

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