Alternative Spaces

How to Create a Hip Event Space Out of a Gas Station

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Fri, Apr 26, 2013 at 11:34 AM
click to enlarge The Service Station at Riverside lets you enjoy the weather while watching a movie this summer. - EVA RECINOS
  • Eva Recinos
  • The Service Station at Riverside lets you enjoy the weather while watching a movie this summer.

See also:

*More L.A. Weekly Film Coverage

*5 Artsy Things to do in L.A. This Week

Summer means you'll probably spend quite the number of evenings plopped on the couch or in a multiplex watching a movie. But this is L.A. and if you don't take advantage of the weather, especially during the summer, you're missing out.

That's what prompted a group of four who recently took over a 1960s gas station in Los Feliz and turned it into the Service Station at Riverside to organize an outdoor movie series starting tomorrow night, April 27. The Service Station at Riverside takes its name from a restored sign -- now able to shine in glowing neon -- sitting atop an awning giving shade to benches outside. You could easily miss the space on Riverside Drive if not for this sign and the distinctly retro feeling of the outdoor space.

The locale once held traditional drive-ins with a giant screen but before being remodeled stood as a scrapyard. But business partners Evan Roosevelt, Austen Lee, David Skinner, Clay Tatum, Phil Crowe and Rachelle House took over, so the space now serves as a veritable ground for creative happenings.

click to enlarge Restored shipping containers, like this one, will have pop-up shops during movie screenings. - EVA RECINOS
  • Eva Recinos
  • Restored shipping containers, like this one, will have pop-up shops during movie screenings.

"Our concept here is to do kind of a retail farmer's market and coffee shop beer garden so all of these shipping containers will be pop-up shops, little boutiques that will change throughout the year," says Roosevelt.

He and Lee co-founded BEERGARDEN/LA to transform open areas throughout the city into meeting places for beer enthusiasts and local brewers. They both see the appeal in drinking a beer in the open air so the Service Station made sense as a permanent space for alcohol consumption and creative happenings. Back in December, they held a Christmas event with 15 tons of snow and drinks and invited the Delancey Street Foundation to sell trees.

The summer movie series will serve as another introduction to the community. On movie nights, 2,000 feet of astro turf will cover most of the Service Station and movie-goers can rent a bean bag chair for $5 or brings their own chairs and blankets. The team wants to break from the station's tradition of the drive-in and create a different movie-watching experience.

"We as Angelenos do not need to be locked up in our cars," Roosevelt says. "And as much as this is a property that kind of references car culture and all that, getting people out of the cars is also a big priority of ours."

To drive this point home, the series will kick off with Pee Wee's Big Adventure, with additional events centered around bicycles. The station collaborated with the non-profit C.I.C.L.E. -- which focuses on making the city more welcoming to Angelenos traveling by alternative transportation -- to plan a family-friendly bike ride from the L.A. River to the Service Station before the movie. The restored shipping containers that night will feature bike-related vendors like apparel company Swrve.

click to enlarge A sign advertising BEERGARDEN/LA offerings - EVA RECINOS
  • Eva Recinos
  • A sign advertising BEERGARDEN/LA offerings

Expect Pee Wee-dressed people riding around as well -- and if the team's avid Tweeting pays off, hopefully Paul Reubens himself decides to make an appearance. If not, there is still the fun movie to watch -- especially when paired with crafts beers from New Belgium Brewing.

To select the films for the series, the team simply sat down and nominated their favorites, including Bettlejuice, Goldfinger, The Fifth Element and Point Break.

"We want movies that if you're flipping through the channel at home and you saw that movie you're like, 'Oh, yeah, okay, I'll watch this' but you wouldn't necessarily put it in your Netflix instant queue, you know?" says Roosevelt.

Pee Wee's Big Adventure will screen Saturday, April 27 at 7:30 p.m. with the entire event going from 5 - 11:30 p.m. Tickets online at riversideservicestation.com/events or at the door are $10 for adults and $5 for children age 5-12. The Service Station at Riverside is located 3160 Riverside Drive Los Feliz, CA 90027

See also:

*More L.A. Weekly Film Coverage

*5 Artsy Things to do in L.A. This Week

Follow me on Twitter at @eva_recinos, and for more arts news follow us at @LAWeeklyArts and like us on Facebook.

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