Delilah does downtown, again

Delilah Rene fixes Danielle Herbert
Delilah Rene fixes Danielle Herbert's hair as Leah Wattree looks on.
— image credit: Charlie Bermant

The bright yellow building at the corner of Bay and Frederick in downtown Port Orchard has a new occupant, the very person who was responsible for choosing that particular in-your-face color in the first place.

Sometime in November, radio personality Delilah Rene plans to open the Port Orchard Pavilion events center in that location, to host a variety of public activities. Additionally, she plans a clothing store located a few doors down on Bay Street; in another building painted just a shade lighter.

“There are no places like this in Port Orchard or anywhere nearby,” Rene said. “We are unique.”

Even before Cedar Cove Days and the town painting effort that preceded it, Rene had the idea for her own line of clothing that would be affordable and attractive, without incorporating the anorectic styles that dominate the fashion magazines.

In recent months the plan increased in scope. When Rene took possession of the 4,000 sq. ft building in September she realized it had a roller rink, kitchen, offices and several other nooks and crannies. The idea grew to include an events center, an all-purpose location for business meetings and family celebrations.

The clothing store follows a concept called “Hootchie Wear,” which is described as both provocative and empowering. It has an antique aspect with frills and lace, but built for comfort and sass.

“We want to reclaim the word ’hootchie,’” Rene said. “It began life as a reference to flappers in the 1920s, but has become less reputable in recent years. We want to bring it back to what it once meant.”

Rene admits that such re-categorization might not work, but compares the situation to her own career. When she started in radio she was told to use a different name, as hers has negative biblical connotations. She overcame that hurdle, and feels that rehabilitating the meaning of hootchie will be easy by comparison.

According to Rene, most women have different proportions than what is offered at major fashion outlets. She uses herself as an example as a typical person who has difficulty finding the right fit, describing her own physique as “an egg on sticks.”

The original plan for the clothing outlet grew with the idea of the events center and then changed again, as city regulations required additional construction if the businesses were to cohabit. Rene then approached landlord Mansour Samadpour and leased a second building next to the Ale House, which requires roof repair before occupancy.

Even so, Rene hopes to have both businesses open by mid-November.

Rene has hired her friends and associates for the new business. Former Kitsap Hospitality Executive Apartments employee Leah Wattree is the event center’s business manager, and Danielle Herbert will manage the clothing store.

Wattree said the events center will provide an option for local residents to host social occasions and hold business meetings, an option missing in downtown Port Orchard since La Gamarche relocated this summer. The rates have yet to be determined, but will be “affordable.”

Other facilities include a talent agent office and a small recording studio, where local performers can demo their musical abilities.

Wattree, who is a member of the Port Orchard Chamber of Commerce’s executive board, hopes to bring in a monthly chamber meeting before too long.

The events center will also have flexible catering options. There is a kitchen where people can cook their own food. Additionally, Wattree hopes to partner with all local caterers, to offer clients a choice of using the food options that fit their budget and tastes.

The Hootchie Wear inventory is currently being sorted and modified in the front of the events center. Much of it is second hand and has a thrift-store feel, but with alterations. Down the road, it will use many of Rene’s own designs, that are created by her five daughters, aged 5 to 22.

“I think the five year old will get off easy this year,” she joked. “And as long as I feed them and keep them in school it isn’t slave labor.”

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