Since closing its doors this past June, the venue formally known as Conan's has been under a steady process of renovation by its new owners, the Hawthorne Entertainment Group. Finally opening for business just last week, the Hawthorne Theatre is a brand new all ages venue run by owner Nicholas Yannariello, who was kind enough to answer a few questions.
How did the Hawthorne Theatre come about?
About six years ago I began playing the local city venues as the lead singer of DFiVE9. As our popularity grew, we began touring around the US and I started taking mental notes about all the different venues—what worked, what didn't, what generally made a place feel good to play in. Except for the Roseland and Crystal Ballroom, there really aren't any mid-size all-age venues in Portland that can accommodate the needs of both the over 21 and under 21 crowds. So I started thinking about the idea of trying to provide that type of venue—what it would need, who it would serve. A place where everyone can see national acts in a more intimate setting, but also be available to local and regional performers.
Who is booking the Hawthorne?
For national acts it's mostly Thrasher Presents. For local and regional acts I'm the booking agent.
Will the Hawthorne always be all ages? How are you managing that with the OLCC?
The Hawthorne Theatre is an all ages venue and that was definitely the most difficult part of designing the club. The room is split into a front half and a back half. The front is all ages and the back is 21 and over. Anyone can move to the front half of the room—they just can't take adult beverages with them. You can still see everything from any location in the theatre, but this way we are able to maintain a strict separation between the two areas.
Do you have a curatorial vision for the Hawthorne? What sort of events/shows do you hope to host? Will there been any holdover from what Conan's was booking?
We plan on hosting concerts and events of all types. We've got rock, indie, reggae, metal, blues, and punk booked up and that's the way we want it. Everything is new, from the building remodel, to the stage and sound system, to the full kitchen, and room layout. I think Conan's did a good job supporting the local music scene, but the Hawthorne Theatre is really starting over and at a much higher level of expectation.