Don Siedhoff turned to his longtime friend Tom Johnson, who is president of NAI Martens, for help finding a tenant for some Old Town Square space he wanted to lease.
Instead, though, Johnson and his wife, Terry, found a business to open there with Siedhoff and his wife, Ruthanne Timm-Siedhoff.
Now, they’re planning a mid-to-late November debut of Pinot’s Palette, a franchise that’s part of what’s called the paint-and-sip industry.
The business, where customers paint pictures while sipping drinks with friends, will be in about 2,600 square feet at 338 N. Mead, which is part of an 8,000-square-foot building the Siedhoffs have there. Currently, Don Siedhoff’s Rock Island Studios photography business is in the front and back of the building. It’s the front part where Pinot’s Palette will open, and Siedhoff will keep his studio in the back.
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“I was just wanting to make better use of the space,” Siedhoff says.
The area has changed significantly in the almost 28 years Siedhoff has been there.
“It was sort of in an unchartered area,” Ruthanne Timm-Siedhoff says of decades ago. “If there was a car down here after 5 or after dark, it made you nervous. Now, it’s when it comes alive.”
In 2008, the Siedhoffs opened their Beyond Napa at Rock Island Studios liquor store on the north side of their building.
Ruthanne Timm-Siedhoff says it makes sense for Pinot’s Palette and its combination of drinks and art to open between Beyond Napa and CityArts.
Terry Johnson says she likes that it’s centrally located. She points out that unlike the fast-growing 5-year-old Houston chain’s other 94 studios in 29 states – 53 of which are open so far – this one isn’t in a strip mall.
“This is just so different for them,” she says of the more than 100-year-old building, which has brick walls.
The Johnsons were driving through Tulsa when they first saw the Pinot’s Palette concept and suggested it to the Siedhoffs. The four of them went to Houston to investigate, which included taking a class themselves.
Tom Johnson says he wasn’t sure what to expect.
“When you first start, you’re trying to be so good,” he says of painting.
“Painting is something you have to focus on, so you forget about everything else,” Siedhoff says.
“It’s amazing what you can do in a 2-hour class,” Ruthanne Timm-Siedhoff says, though she adds that “I was taking it too seriously.”
The business is about fun, too, which is partly where the drinking comes in.
“About halfway through it, everyone was yukking it up, having a good time,” Tom Johnson says. “And if you just happen to come up with a good piece of art, more power to you.”
The foursome hope to create the same atmosphere here.
“The best part is people are happy,” says Terry Johnson, who is a media buyer for Mitchell Media Services.
“You’re selling fun,” says Ruthanne Timm-Siedhoff, who has had On the Lake Creative Services for 30 years.
“We’re all keeping our day jobs, but we’ll all be involved in this as well,” Terry Johnson says. “It’ll be collaborative.”
The business will hire six to 10 artists who will help customers who have signed up through a calendar of classes where they get to select what they paint.
Along with the paint, the business supplies glasses, plates and ice, but customers have to provide their own drinks and snacks.
“We’ll just provide a space to have fun,” Siedhoff says.
Paint the Towne, which is a similar business with locations on the east and west sides, is the main competition for Pinot’s Palette.
Initially, Pinot’s Palette will be open Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights and for private parties and corporate events. That could change.
“We are going to learn as we go on this,” Ruthanne Timm-Siedhoff says.
It’s much like adapting the Rock Island Studios space, Sidehoff says.
“It’s all about change,” he says. “You have to be able to adapt.”