Kevin Krak had a clear vision for the shuttered, century-old theater he purchased five years ago in downtown West Dundee.
He pictured the exposed brick walls, comfortable balcony seating and an eclectic green room lounge. He envisioned crowds of music lovers enjoying intimate performances by artists of all styles and genres.
Rockin' the HausRockin' the Haus
Headliners booked for the new RocHaus in West Dundee:
Tuesday, Oct. 24: Living Colour. 8 p.m. Tickets: $20-$35
Friday, Oct. 27: Josh Todd and the Conflict; Wayland. 8 p.m. Tickets: $20-$35
Tuesday, Nov. 14: Powerman 5000. 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $20-$35
Wednesday, Nov. 29: Flaw. 7 p.m. $15-$30
It was no easy feat transforming the space at 96 W. Main St. into a state-of-the-art live music venue while still maintaining its historic vibe, said Krak, who took on the task as a passion project. But after nearly two years of construction, he says, his hard work will pay off next week when the revitalized theater reopens as RocHaus.
"Music is a big part of my life ... and I always thought it'd be cool to have a real venue with a city vibe out here in the suburbs," said Krak, president of Gallant Building Solutions in Crystal Lake. "It's really cool to have been able to take that vision and make it a reality."
Living Colour, a rock band formed in the 1980s, will take the stage Tuesday as RocHaus' first headliner, General Manager Lisa Laino said. The concert is nearly sold out, she said, noting the venue holds just under 500 people.
RocHaus has booked five acts through December, including Josh Todd & The Conflict and Powerman 5000, and several more are in the works. Though the theater will have a focus on rock music, Krak said he hopes to appeal to all musical tastes by hosting a wide variety of artists.
Built in the early 1900s, it was a vaudeville theater, a movie theater and most recently a music venue called Clearwater Theater, which shut down in 2011. The refurbished site is expected to serve as a live entertainment hub for the area, fitting nicely into West Dundee's ongoing downtown redevelopment project, Community Development Director Tim Scott said.
"We're just so encouraged by the promise of the venue and its role in our efforts to revitalize and enhance the historic district," Scott said. "It's the intimacy and authenticity of the experience that will set it apart."
Krak attended concerts at the Clearwater more than a decade ago, something that spurred his interest in breathing new musical life into the venue. In addition to giving the facade a facelift, he gutted the interior, installed a new bar, updated production equipment and added new decor.
An adjacent building, once a hotel, has been converted into a green room and lounge modeled after the House of Blues Foundation Room in Chicago, Krak said. Part of the property closest to the Fox River has become the ticket office and merchandise store.
"I loved the space. I thought it was really unique and really cool and just not something you see here in this part of the 'burbs," Krak said. "So the work we did here was being true to what it was, and the textures and colors and vibe over the last 100-plus years were really important for us to keep. But I also wanted it to be functional and comfortable and have a cool, modern vibe."
Standing room will be available for most general admission ticketholders, Krak said, though tables and stools will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Attendees can also pay extra to sit in the balcony, which has servers, more tables and some lounge seating.
Ticket prices will vary depending on the act, Krak said. Though some shows may be open for all ages, others will be restricted to ages 21 or 18 and older.
"It's all about the stage and the music and real musicians doing their thing," Krak said. "We're really just getting warmed up and fired up."