Aberdeen events center prepares for opening

OlympianMarch 19, 2014 

John Yonich is about to provide people with another reason to come downtown in Aberdeen: a 9,000 square foot event venue right next door to the D&R Theatre he renovated in 2008.

The theater and an adjacent coffee shop and ice cream parlor have already pumped new life into the neighborhood and now Yonich is about to open the D&R Events Center in what has been known as the Clevenger Building at the corner of Heron and I streets.

When other plans for the Clevenger Building fell through, Yonich decided to create an events center for dinners and parties before and after concerts, for weddings, graduations, anniversaries and other life cycle events.

Shanine Prochaska, who Yonich describes as his right hand, took The Daily World on a tour recently. As with many other Yonich properties, the interior has been designed by Christine Yonich, his wife.

In the renovation, the false ceiling was stripped away, revealing five tall pillars to punctuate the grand space where tables and chairs are arranged under the high ceiling on new dark-wood laminate floors. Four smaller pillars support the balcony above. The pillars are capped by molding provided by Yonich’s company, Holley Moulding.

The colors are warm and neutral earth tones, lit by the round period lights.

A grand two-sided staircase with metal railing, thick dark brown carpet in a beige pattern leads upstairs to a long balcony of options. Large brown ceiling fans help distribute the heat generated by the heating and air conditioning unit suspended from the ceiling.

On the left, the balcony features a small rectangular room with windows. They are smoky. "You can see out, but people can’t see inside," Prochaska said. This could be a changing room for the bride, who could then sweep her train down open corridor to the staircase. It could serve as a crying or nursing room for parents with young children. A small wall heater was added to make sure whoever is up there isn’t cold if the doors are closed.

Bistro tables line the upper level and continue toward a full bar that adorns a large room that opens out at the other end.

Here the mood is what Prochaska calls "speakeasy." The bar, trimmed in wood, is encased in shiny copper that will gain patina over time, she said. The countertop has flecks of copper. A lattice of wood tones down the shiny copper on the bar back where shelves for liquor will be attached.

A double barrel drink machine for daiquiris and margaritas will be supplied by Wishkah River Distillery, a local company. Catering options will also be provided. Amore, Yonich’s Italian restaurant on Heron Street, is a natural. Andy Bickar, chef and owner of Rediviva at Wishkah and I Street, has also been approached. Prochaska also plans to talk to O’Brien’s Catering.

There is a warming kitchen and plans include providing cooking capabilities. Currently capacity is around 300, with 250 planned for downstairs, and 50 upstairs.

Prochaska has a stack of requests. "People are clamoring to get in," she said.

The center will offer all kinds of packages that will be posted on a new website that is about to go live, Prochaska said. Customers can select areas they want to include in a package depending on how big they want to go. Parties from 30 to 500 will eventually be accommodated.

Plans also include selling a subscription to the concerts and events next door that would include a sit-down dinner before hand, and maybe an after party.

There are catering areas up and downstairs and rectangular rooms of assorted sizes that can be used for a variety of purposes, including groom and bridal party dressing areas.

Built in 1904, the center, like the theater is on the Aberdeen Historic Register. The building at I Street and Heron has had several lives. The display windows surrounding it bespeak its retail past.

Pearson’s Women’s Apparel once filled the space, a jumble of salvaged goods lined the windows when Clevenger’s held sway. The terrible storm of December 2007 took part of its roof off and the building nearly drowned in the damage.

For now, the display windows of the center are populated by D&R event posters. The windows can be dressed according to the occasion by a revolving cast: couples celebrating their wedding or anniversary, graduates of Grays Harbor College or area high schools, or decorated in the style of choice. The cast of characters or decorations will be lit by a row of baby spotlights.

The D&R Center seems ready for its closeup.

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