Movies — along with coffee, wine and pie — are being served along downtown's ever-blossoming Film Row.
Co-owners Melodie Garneau, Becky Kephart and Helen Goulden opened The Paramount OKC, the unique-to-Oklahoma coffee shop and screening room, on Aug. 1 — a venture that was inspired by a similar New York City coffee shop Kephart heard about on National Public Radio.
Kephart, a former film student at Watkins College of Art, Design and Film in Nashville, Tenn., was instantly excited about the idea and shared it with Garneau and Goulden.
“We're both big film buffs,” Garneau said. “And what better place to do this than on Film Row.”
In its mid-20th century heyday, the 700 block of W Sheridan Avenue was one of 35 film distribution centers across the country, home to branches of Paramount, RKO, 20th Century Fox and other studios.
Until the past several years, the block was better known as “skid row,” a blighted stretch on the west fringe of downtown. Developer Chip Fudge bought up several of the art deco buildings, launched renovations and worked with the city to start a streetscape. The area is now home to an art gallery, pizzeria and offices.
Garneau said the three first approached Fudge, but the only space he had available was not a good fit for their ambitions to set up a combined coffee shop, wine bar and independent theater.
“We saw a for-lease sign, and it was just what we needed,” Garneau said. “We told the owner, Ron Smith, what we wanted to do, and how we wanted a large room for screenings and special events.”
It was then that Smith told the women the building at 701 W Sheridan Ave., once the outpost for Paramount Pictures, had a 70-seat theater.