Topic: Orpheum Theatre, Hillsboro Illinois
From: Dallas, TX
Registered: Feb 2003
posted December 30, 2004 12:40 AM
There's No Business Like Show Business, Especially When It's A Family Business
Story and Photos by Mary Galer
Hollywood has always proclaimed that "there is no business like show business."
One Hillsboro family would especially agree.
Jeff and Julie Eisentraut, along with their family, Cary, Madison, Alex and Bailey, moved to Hillsboro from Fort Madison, IA, just one year ago this month to take over and run the Orpheum Theatre.
"I've been in the theater business practically my whole life," Jeff said.
At just 11 years old, Jeff had his first job at a major theater chain in Des Moines, IA, where his brother worked. And by 15, he was managing his first theater.
In fact, he even met his wife, Julie, in a theater where she was working concessions.
"The theater is really important to me," Jeff said. "And it has been for all my life."
The rest as they say, is history, and their life in the theater continued, as their family began to expand.
Theater business had its ups and downs in Iowa, and in 1997 Jeff closed his theater and worked various jobs along the way, including managing his son Cary's band for awhile.
But he longed to return to the theater business, and when the opportunity arose here in Hillsboro, all the Eisentrauts took a field trip to the Orpheum.
"When Cary and I got to the middle of the steps upstairs to the balcony, we knew that this was the theater," Jeff said.
The Eisentrauts took a family vote, and it was a unanimous decision to move.
Jeff and Julie have four children, 20 year-old Cary, who co-owns the Orpheum, Maddie, age 17, Alex, age 15 and Bailey, age 11, who all help out in the operations of the family business.
"All the kids have different strengths," Julie said.
"That's the fun part," Jeff said. "Everybody fits a role."
Jeff said "Cary is the public relations man. He's very friendly. And Maddie's strength is in organization. She's great in the physical operation of the theater, in preparations and inventory."
"We learned early on that Alex didn't necessarily like being around people. She used to follow me into the projection room, and now she's our genius at running the movies."
"And Bailey is kind of our mascot," Jeff said. "She loves coming to work, although she hates cleaning. She's very good at making friends and has been really important to us. She's the only employee customers ask for by name."
"It's the essence of a family business," Jeff said.
Julie does all of the marketing and advertising for the Orpheum with a little help from her mom, who lives in Kansas City, MO.
And the kids joke that Jeff works as the janitor in their theater.
"It's not just about the movie at the Orpheum Theatre," Jeff said. "It's about the experience. About quality. About having a great night out."
Cleaning is very important to Jeff, as he feels that no one should go to the theater with popcorn on the floor. Everyone helps out to clean in between shows on weekend nights.
He and Julie felt very welcomed upon their arrival to Hillsboro, and have been determined to earn the community's respect.
"This is a great place to raise a family," Jeff said. "It has a great quality of life. This one is a blessing, and we know it."
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