Reed’s renovation brings new restaurants, shops and flair to downtown Salem

Opera theater


The newly renovated building of the Reed Opera House is close to the ensemble with restaurants, shops and a more organized space for the enjoyment of the Salemites.

The Reed Opera House had a smooth opening on October 1, 2021. (Amanda Loman / Salem Reporter)

When the owners of the Reed Opera House decided to sell the building, real estate developer Scott Chernoff saw an opportunity for a re-emergence of downtown Salem.

Chernoff has led the renovation of the building since California investor Cumberland Holdings purchased the landmark opera house, renamed “The Reed,” in 2018.

Now, with more than 80 tenants, the building’s renovation is almost complete after developers repaired its 150-year-old brick and revamped the businesses inside. It is a comfortable place where visitors can have a cup of coffee, go shopping or people-watch.

One of the newer stores at the Reed is Sun Bear Den, a plant store that has been operating outside the building for the past year after previously being online only.

Owner Julie Vo said she was considering another location for the store, and when that deal “miraculously” fell through, her real estate agent asked if he wanted to check out the space available at the Reed. “We just had to do it,” Vo said. “It is a once in a lifetime dream location.”

Julie Vo, owner of The Sun Bear Den, clouds the plants during the smooth opening of the Reed Opera House on October 1, 2021 (Amanda Loman / Salem Reporter)

Vo remembers visiting the old Reed opera house when she was in high school and said she would often go around in circles before finding what she was looking for.

Chernoff said that while business diversity is a strength of Reed, it was confusing visitors, so developers have worked to simplify ownership through the renovation.

The businesses are now clustered together, with “personal services” like hair and nail salons in the basement, restaurants and retail on the first floor, and creative offices on the third floor, Chernoff said. The Reed will have conference space where companies can hold meetings as well as a ballroom, where he said they had gone from 50 events per year to 150 per year before Covid reached the Oregon.

Cumberland Holdings also purchased the building at 120 Commercial St. NE, where Masonry Grill and Alley Cat now operate.

“We envision the Reed as the true central hub in Salem where there will be a bit of everything for everyone,” Chernoff said.

With about half of the basement still under construction, Chernoff said residents of Salem can expect a full grand opening probably by the end of the year.

The basement under construction is visible from the first floor of the Reed Opera House during the soft opening on October 1, 2021. (Amanda Loman / Salem Reporter)

Chernoff said he was particularly excited about the planned basement scenic area, which will feature comfortable new furniture, “beautiful lighting” and improvements to his wall treatments. The stage will host events including artistic performances, poetry and cooking workshops.

The latest addition planned for the Reed will be historical vignettes, including news articles and images dating back to 1870, around the building so that visitors can read the history of the buildings as they walk through it.

Cyrus Adams Reed, who built the historic opera house, had a contract with the state to build space for the Oregon State Legislature, the State Supreme Court, and the State Library, Reed’s website reported. As authorities broke the deal, Reed asked architect GW Rhodes to build seven stores, an opera house and a hotel in the building from 1869 to 1870. When Reed built the 1,500-seat theater, the Salem’s population was approximately 1,139 people.

Many owners and investment firms during the pandemic “decided to just sit there and do nothing,” Chernoff said. “We made the decision to continue and we knew we would get out of it.

It has paid off, he said, with around seven tenants signing new leases at the building over the past year, and Reed last Friday called its “soft opening” to recognize its momentum.

Also new to the building are Caffé Capri Cafe, Zoulbound Tattoo Parlor, 503 Unwind Clothing Store and Quantum Light, which also offers Metaphysical Crystals, Yoga, Meditation, and Retail. Another addition, Dipped Temptations, sells soaked strawberry treats.

When Aaron Naden opened Capitol Menswear at the Reed in July, he remodeled another space in the building and painted it white, planning to turn it into a beard shop. Then he decided to open an apothecary instead and moved the beard products to his men’s clothing store.

Chase Emery, a salesperson at Capital Apothecary, said Naden opened the store after finding out Salem doesn’t have a store like this that sells essential oils and skin care.

“A lot of people who come into the Reed don’t have a lot of time,” Emery said. “They will come during their break, but they will come in, check, and then usually come back a little later.”

When James Cureton and his wife, Diana, opened Munchies Market at the Reed on July 2, he said they lobbied for the best lighting possible. They had their wish, with the wall to the right of the market made up almost entirely of windows.

Cureton said he was very excited about the openness and bright lights that the renovation brought to the Reed, which was once dark and lacking in activity inside the building. Now, he said, the interior is brighter and more welcoming than ever.

“There is a renewed attitude and a better vision for the community being built downtown,” said Cureton. “People moving here, fresh new businesses appear, people are excited. You just saw a lot of promises.

The Reed Opera House had a smooth opening on October 1, 2021. (Amanda Loman / Salem Reporter)

Shirts in a display window at Awkward Peach Boutique during the provisional opening of Reed Opera House on October 1, 2021. (Amanda Loman / Salem Reporter)

Pastries for sale Caffé Capri during the provisional opening of the Reed Opera on October 1, 2021. (Amanda Loman / Salem Reporter)

Honey Hair Loft hairstylists and co-owner Katie McNichols, center, work on client Lacy Bollinger’s hair while co-owner Julia Bussard works with another client at the temporary opening of Opera Reed on October 1, 2021. (Amanda Loman / Salem reporter)

Soaps on sale at Capitol Apothecary at the opening of the Reed Opera House on October 1, 2021 (Amanda Loman / Salem Reporter)

A sign on the HattaWear window as the Reed Opera House smoothly opens on October 1, 2021. (Amanda Loman / Salem Reporter)

Contact journalist Ardeshir Tabrizian: [email protected] or 503-929-3053.

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