Owners say they are ready to pass their beloved business onto new owners who can continue to build off their hard work.
By Sayde Walker
When the Tillamook Coliseum Theater first came up for sale in 2014, Shiela Zerngast was immediately intrigued.
“I grew up watching movies in this theater,” she recalled. “I remember standing up in the balcony and throwing popcorn on my sister down below. When it first went up for sale, I instantly wanted to purchase it.”
After watching it sit vacant, Shiela convinced her husband Matthew to go look at it with her.
“I basically told him to tell me no so I could stop obsessing, or come look at it with me. Either way, he had to put me out of my misery.”
What she wasn’t expecting was for her husband to fall in love with the building as much as she did. The couple made an offer, and officially closed on the theater on their 22nd wedding anniversary.
They went to work the very next day.
“I had big plans,” Shiela said. “I wanted to clean it, fix it up and give everyone the experience of watching a movie that I feel every time I enter a good theater: my heart races, and I get giddy at the thought of getting to watch a good movie. I believe this experience comes with good customer service, and a love of people, movies and the area.”
For the first 10 weeks, friends, family and complete strangers showed up every day to help the Zerngasts remodel and get the theater ready for opening day on November 1, 2014.
“Contractors fit us into their schedule, and community organizations came to lend a hand,” Shiela said. “It was like an amazing episode of Extreme Makeover.”
Since 2014, the Zerngasts have poured their heart and soul into the remodel of the Coliseum, which was originally built in 1923. They remodeled the concession and lobby rea; installed original light shades from the 1920s; installed black and white deco-style tile in the lobby; added new carpet and paint throughout and refurbished the vintage neon sign. Among other massive upgrades, they also expanded the concession selections to include local food, beer and wine items. We sell Tillamook ice cream, Tillamook Cheese, Tillamook Country Smoker jerky, Fat Dog Pizza, Pelican Beer, and other food items.
“We see it as the theater for the whole community, not just ours alone,” Shiela explained.
And now, Shiela and her family are ready to hand over the reins of their successful theater to the next set of owners who will keep the legacy alive and continue to integrate the Coliseum into the revitalization of downtown Tillamook.
“We are choosing to sell now, because we feel that we have taken it through the downtown construction and revitalized it be a thriving business,” she explained. “Now someone that is looking for a fun, exciting business can jump right in and continue on with the amazing foundation we have established.”
The Coliseum, which shows first-run movies, is approximately 6,000 square feet with a 245-seat theater and an unfinished balcony.
“We have the movie, projector and concession relationships and support team to assist whoever takes it over to step into,” said Shiela. “We have established a great system of support companies, that help us navigate seamlessly through the cinema magic business.”
The theater also enjoys a lucrative on-screen advertising business with very little overhead.
The Coliseum still has many historical elements including both original projectors, the original light dimmer, phone and electrical boxes, projection room, pulleys and curtains behind the screen, along with many other items that are character building from the original theater. The original decorative emblem is still on the theater ceiling.
“We love the Coliseum,” Shiela said. “It’s hard to think about selling something that feels like part of your family, but we really feel like we saved the theater, and a historical piece of our community, and now it’s ready for someone else to step in and keep the momentum going . The heavy lifting is finished, and while there is still potential to grow the theater, it’s now a thriving business again that’s ready for someone to step in and take over.”
Shiela noted that they would be holding out for the right owners, and the theater will continue to operate as usual until the business sells.
For more information contact Shiela Zerngast at 503-812-9647 or email Shiela@tillamookcoliseum.com.