Ask anyone over a certain age what Sperry's meant to them, and they'll launch into a story of buying their first Girl Scout uniform, or their daughter's First Communion dress, or of the fantastic Sperry's elevator and its operator--everyone has a fond memory to share. So many of those memories were sparked when, at dusk on Jan. 29, the Sperry's sign was lit for the first time in decades, an emotional and physical milestone in the revitalization of downtown Port Huron.
Granted, the renovated Sperry's isn't exactly what it was in years past. Where once there was a department store that rivaled Hudson's in Detroit, there's now a 12-screen boutique movie theater, and opening at 4 p.m. Feb. 10, a second floor casual dining restaurant aptly called the Second Floor Dinnerhouse.
Work crews are putting the finishing touches on the Second Floor as General Manager Scott Beedon sits down for an impromptu interview with The Keel. Sunlight pours in through the wall of windows facing the rest of downtown, a view Beedon says no one's seen in decades.
"These windows had been covered, painted over, for years," he says, "but now part of the dining experience will be this spectacular view."
Beedon explains the concept behind the restaurant, and how it integrates with the theater on the first and third floors.
First, he says, there's the tie-in to the theater, allowing customers to enjoy the unique menu while they're watching a movie. Sure, he says, the theater will offer the typical concession fare — popcorn, candy, and soda--but there will also be the tasty entrees, sides, sweet treats, and beverages on the restaurant menu. Customers will buy their tickets (or better yet, pick them up after reserving them online), buy their concessions or menu items, then be escorted to their seats in the theater. About 15 minutes later, but no more than five minutes into the show, a runner will bring them their food and drinks.
There's another option for movie-goers, Beedon explains. Arrive about an hour before showtime, take the stairs or elevator to the second floor, and place your order at the counter. When you've paid for your food, grab a thick wood block etched with your order number, then have a seat in one of the plush booths or at one of the modern-looking, but comfortable tables. Within minutes, a friendly staff member will bring your order, and you can enjoy your food and drink while keeping an eye on the large screen across the restaurant, which display showtimes. If you've finished your meal before your movie begins, just head to your theater and enjoy the show. If not, says Beedon, feel free to bring your food and up to two drinks into the theater with you. (Why the two-drink rule? Beedon says, "Because you can only carry two drinks.")
Of course, it's completely possible to enjoy a meal and the stellar view without seeing a movie at all, Beedon points out. And while all of the food on offer sounds incredibly delicious, Beedon mentions the "build your own" portion of the menu, which is truly mouth-watering: build your own mac and cheese, build your own poutine, and build your own pizza. There's also more traditional casual dining fare, like blackened salmon, Philly cheese steak and BBQ pulled pork sliders, and a swoon-worthy dessert menu with gluten-free options, including a salted caramel brownie parfait.
After talking about the excitement of the new Sperry's, Beedon circles back to one of the fond memory-inducing features of the Second Floor he's truly proud to own.
"Everyone who remembers Sperry's has these stories to tell about the old elevator," he says. "We weren't able to save the old elevator, but we did incorporate it into the new restaurant."
And there they are--the old elevator doors, with their original patina from years of use, made into a beautiful wall, tying the history of the building to the revitalization of the entire downtown.
Sperry's is located at 301 Huron Avenue. For showtimes and tickets, visit Sperry's Moviehouse online at sperrysmoviehouse.com or call (810) 432-0001.