Sid Garcia-Heberger

Posted on January 8, 2012 – 1:21 AM | by Admin
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By Becky Grunewald Photo by Scott Duncan

Laura Garcia-Heberger (known to one and all as “Sid”) is almost completely synonymous with the business she leases and manages: The Crest Theatre.
She’s been there almost since the beginning of the rebirth of the Crest, in the mid-‘80s. At the time she was a small town girl from Sutter Creek, “a town with no movie theater,” who had left home for the first time to attend CSUS. She was living in the burbs and “found my way to my first real movie theater job in 1986, which was at the Arden Fair Cinemas behind Arden Fair Mall. That theater’s gone…” Garcia-Heberger scored that job through relationships she made as part of the interactive cast of The Rocky Horror Picture Show (she played Dr. Scott, then Magenta, if you must know).

In a very Sacramento story, she was attending one of B.L. Kennedy’s multi-day marathon poetry readings, for which she “camped out almost the entire week,”when Kennedy introduced her to Matias Bombal. Bombal, who was part of the team renovating the Crest, took a shine to her, and when it came time for him to hire a concessionaire for the theater’s re-opening, he decided he had found his candy pusher (see page 20 for Bombal’s look at lost movie palaces). In fact, he wouldn’t take no for an answer.

The early days: Sid at the concession stand manager, circa 1987

“At the time I thought, ‘well couldn’t a million other people run this concession stand, why am I the perfect person?’” Garcia-Heberger says. “So I kind of brushed him off. I really wasn’t looking for a second job … I get home and my roommates are like ‘You’ve gotta call this guy, he is calling every hour, call him back!’, I’m like, ‘I’m not interested. I’m really not interested.’ My friend…took me aside and said ‘They’re talking about making you management, you’ve got to call him back.’ So I called… I put on my job interview suit and went down, do the interview and of course they hired me. It was then that I learned that management meant that I was going to be the only person running the concession stand, so of course that made me the manager of the concession stand (laughs). “

The Crest at the time was not the movie palace that we know and love; Garcia-Heberger describes it as “dirty, greasy, dusty”; nevertheless, she fell in love with it. “Everyone who was involved in the opening – it was just a really special bunch of people. We were doing something that was different, meaningful too, to the theater and to the people of Sacramento. It just kind of got in under my skin.”

She rather quickly moved up through the ranks to become general manager, “I was 21 when I started working at the Crest. I was probably 23 or 24 when I started running it. It grew as I grew. So we kind of matured together and I made my mistakes and learned my way as I went. “ Then, in a series of buyouts starting in 1991 and ending in the mid-‘90s, she and her two partners (Andy Field and Gary Schroeder) purchased the company that leases and operates the Crest.
Over her tenure, she’s seen many changes, both with the Crest (which added two additional screens in 1997) and with the embattled stretch of K St. that fronts it. Despite the tendency for K St. redevelopment to serve as a political hot potato, Garcia-Heberger is “excited” about the current state of affairs, cars and all. She takes the long view:
“We’ve existed through long stretches of time where we’re absolutely the only thing open at night for blocks, including nobody walking around, just absolutely nothing. There were moments in the early 2000s when you’d see those glimpses of what it could be like. There was this one night in particular we were doing Trash Film Orgy for three nights…so we were super busy, the Imax was opening…the street was full of people and it was just exciting and made you giddy to think it could be like this all the time what would it be like? Now that’s what it’s like every Friday and Saturday night, so that’s a step in the right direction.”

She’s also optimistic about the future of the Crest, due both to Sacramento’s growing film festival scene and the creative partnerships she’s developing, including the quarterly film program with the Verge Center for the Arts. She knows that in the age of home theaters and downloaded movies “film is becoming more and more easy to access through other means besides a movie theater, so you have to bring audiences an experience that they can’t replicate in their living room. So lectures, discussions, music, alcohol are all important components to give people an experience that they can’t get sitting in their armchair.”

  1. 5 Responses to “Sid Garcia-Heberger”

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    By Mickie Rat on Jan 19, 2012 | Reply

    Yay Sid! I always have and will love the Crest, even when it was “dirty, greasy, and dusty.” Especially then. I’m glad to see it grow and thrive and I am honored that I had the chance to work there. Sid and Bill were awesome, caring bosses that helped me through tough times with understanding and extra shifts when I needed them. Long live Sid and the Crest!

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    By Laura Chick on Jan 19, 2012 | Reply

    Wow, an amazing article on so many levels, and an amazing woman ‘behind the Crest’. Its redundant to say what the Crest means to so many, not just artisans, movie buffs, and downtown business, but to the Sacramento community. Community happens when people have a shared vision, goal or common ground. Well done Sid, well done.

  4. avatar

    By Laurie Pederson on Jan 20, 2012 | Reply

    Sid is my hero. The film arts scene in Sacramento would be woefully incomplete without her efforts and without this fabulous theatre and all it represents to our city. Sid is a true gem inside the treasure that is the Crest. Her loving attention and efforts – along with her husband Bill and the Crest staff, make this venue something truly special to it’s patrons, and extremely valuable to our city and it’s efforts in growing the arts in our region.

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    By ron cooper on Jan 21, 2012 | Reply

    Sid and Bill have grown the Crest as the incubator for local film festivals and local performances and events. Downtown life is more than night clubs and cars on K Street. It requires nurturing a “creative class” of people. We need more “Crests” – venues supportive of live performances, filled with enthusiasm, risk-taking, silliness, discussion and collective planning. Local owners/managers who make a long-term commitment to working through tough times, solving problems and tweaking new adventures. Overnight success usually passes just as quickly. Successful ventures must be sustained and permitted to grow over time. Sid and Bill are the Mom and Dad of our downtown creative climate. They care deeply and set the tone for others. Thank you both!

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    By Jonathan Morken on Jan 22, 2012 | Reply

    Right on!! The Crest is the only Movie Theatre in Sacramento that counts! Sid has always and continues to be open to showing our crazy flicks, without Sid and The Crest the Sacramento film scene would be way different.

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