Food & Film

Hawthorne’s 4th Wall Blends Café and Movie Theater

The new Southeast Portland spot slings coffee, snacks, and movies all day long.

By Karly Quadros December 2, 2021

The 4th Wall is a new cinema-themed café on SE Hawthorne.

It started with two friends fantasizing about programming their dream film series. Six months later, it became a brick-and-mortar reality called the 4th Wall Theater and Lounge. This brand-new café/movie house hybrid, which opened November 1 on SE Hawthorne and 15th, is closer to your friend’s living room than a traditional multiplex. 

“We wanted a small, community, independent feel,” says Jason Thompson, who cofounded the 4th Wall with Asa Fager after the two worked together at a movie theater in Seattle. The intimate setting is packed with couches, tables, and chairs surrounding a large projection screen (which, at the time of my visit, was playing the underrated Studio Ghibli film Ponyo). Titles are often drawn from what Thompson calls “the comfort classics of film”—think the Brat Pack, Tim Burton, Hitchcock, and Spielberg, all playing from the moment the shop opens at 8 a.m. until it closes at 8 p.m., or 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. 

With this grab bag of genres and eras, an afternoon at the 4th Wall can feel like those nostalgic days of flipping through cable channels and stumbling upon a scene from your favorite movie—or a film you’ve never heard of in your life. 

On top of film series like Teen Angst-giving and Sequels That Are Better Than the Originals (Terminator 2: Judgment Day and Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn find themselves in the company of more controversial picks like Hellboy II: The Golden Army), the 4th Wall hosts movie trivia nights and video game tournaments for fans of Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros.  

And if you missed gathering with friends for event viewing during the pandemic, the lounge also hosts watch parties for streaming shows like Marvel's Hawkeye and What If...?. The café also screens less appreciated streaming titles (think The Old Guard and Palm Springs) and movies from genres, like romantic comedy, which studios often skip in favor of action franchises and other blockbusters. 

Whether visitors are just popping in during the a.m. for a quick breakfast sandwich or craving an evening cup of coffee (courtesy of Sisters Coffee Company), the 4th Wall supplements its screenings with a hybrid café-and-concession-stand menu. Doe’s ice cream sandwiches and, of course, yellow buttery popcorn are included in the lounge’s offerings, and visitors can expect a regular license for beer and wine in the new year. 

In the future, Thompson hopes to have more comedy and more trivia nights, but the 4th Wall will always, first and foremost, be about movies. “We don’t want it to be quiet. We want it to be a place to talk about movies and joke around,” says Thompson. 

For more information on the 4th Wall’s programming, join the list for the café's newsletter or follow it on Letterboxd at @the4thwallpdx 

1445 SE Hawthorne

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