Third Ward native opens city’s first Black drive-in theater

Khairi Sharif opened Space City Shows after looking for a creative outlet while being quarantined.

By Kissuth E. Reamo, Defender intern

Khairi Sharif is no stranger to hard work and determination. It’s what he’s used throughout his life to achieve his goals. That’s why the Third Ward native didn’t settle on his success as an entrepreneur with HTX Epoxy Floors, and branched out into unchartered territories and created the drive-in theater, Space City Shows.

The first Black-owned drive-in theatre in Houston, Space City Shows features a 20-by-40-foot silver screen and offers a wide range of movies, from old to new, that will be shown every weekend. Moviegoers also get to enjoy the skyline view of the city, as well as various food choices from food trucks and a live DJ before and after each film showing.

Sharif got the idea while being “bored” on quarantine. Since May, the 26-year-old has been learning about movie licenses, liabilities and screen projectors in order to turn his dream into a reality.

Here, he talks with the Defender about the theater, and where he believes “being a man of character, faith, hard work, determination and a doer” will take him next.

Defender: What was the driving force behind birthing Space City Shows? 

Khairi Sharif: I enjoy watching movies.  I enjoy the experience of visiting a theater with friends and family, the concessions and enjoying a great show.  I missed that, so, while sitting at home due to COVID, I started thinking. One minute I was talking about it and then it started to come together.  

Defender: As a Black entrepreneur, is it your desire to provide a venue that caters to the Black community or will films of other ethnicities and cultures be featured?

Sharif: Houston is very diverse. I realize I didn’t have the following or reputation to draw people by my name alone. So I started with my base, my home first, what I knew, my people. We’ve featured some iconic Black films that remind everyone of family and classics that bring back the nostalgia of our history. We have a diverse line up of films that will reflect the uniqueness and diversity that Houston displays.

Defender: What training in your education or background provided the fuel to birth the business? What advice would you give to other aspiring entrepreneurs?

Sharif: No formal training, but business talks with my father. Be your own boss. Work for yourself. Discussions on financial literacy. Always keeping your eyes open for opportunities. The city had a problem, but I came up with a solution. Find a unique outlet, then read and tap into others’ experience and knowledge. Find out what others have done and how they did it.  Get their information, take what’s useful and shelf the rest. You don’t know that you can swim until you’re in the water. You don’t know how much faith you have until that’s all you have. Faith leaves no doubt. 

Defender: What would be your dream job?

Sharif: College football coach. Before COVID, I was hanging around UH because my college roommate is on the coaching staff there.  I’ve always had a love for football and once you’re around it, the comradery, team atmosphere, and learning from one another, it’s something you want to maintain. What I can say right now is real estate development is in my heart and mind. So, stay tuned…  

Defender: Complete this sentence. Khairi Sharif will be remembered for…

Sharif: I am a standup guy, a man of my word that sets the best example possible. A man of faith – without God nothing is possible, my greatness comes from a higher power.  I don’t speak about all the ideas in my head until I’m ready to bring them to life.  Some people didn’t think I would play Division I ball, earn a scholarship, or have an award-winning college career. Some people questioned my dream for Space City Shows, but now they see that it’s real.

Space City Shows, 2300 Runnels Street (Houston’s East Downtown)

Tickets: $30 per car; must be purchased online in advance: SpaceCityShows.com