Five years after an online fundraising campaign brought a new digital projector to the Catlow Theater in downtown Barrington, a similar effort has been launched to renovate an adjacent restaurant.
Tim O'Connor said he needs to raise $40,000 through Kickstarter to help with expenses to improve the new Showtime Eatery, which replaced the long-running Boloney's Sandwich Shop in October. O'Connor, who owns the Catlow and the neighboring Showtime, said he projects the restaurant upgrades would cost at least $100,000.
O'Connor and his wife, Laura, said they'd have to consider renting the restaurant and the 90-year-old Catlow to another operator or selling the entire property if the fundraising goal is not achieved by a Dec. 9 deadline.
"It is a big transition," Laura O'Connor said, "and we can't do it without the Barrington backers. And I think once they (contribute), they'll enjoy the experience. It really is about experience."
Plans call for converting Showtime from what the O'Connors say is a tired sandwich shop interior to one with a contemporary look more fitting for Barrington, featuring a new counter and beverage bar area, flooring, walls, ceiling, lighting fixtures, furniture and an improved connection to the Catlow lobby.
It took only seven days in 2012 for the Catlow to meet a $100,000 goal through the Kickstarter crowdfunding site for the digital projector required for new movie releases. The theater received 1,394 donations totaling $175,395 when the full 60-day campaign ended.
Tim O'Connor said he turned to Kickstarter again in an effort to boost Showtime Eatery because he doesn't want to seek a bank loan and is "tapped out" from trying to keep Boloney's going since his fiancee Roberta Rapata died in 2016. Rapata co-owned the theater and Boloney's with O'Connor, but she's credited with being the driving force behind the beloved sandwich joint.
Showtime Eatery has a new menu with some holdovers from Boloney's, such as the Reuben sandwich and turkey and tuna salads. The establishment plans to sell beer and wine that visitors could bring into the theater.
"We could go as it is, but people are saying when they come in, it looks like Boloney's," O'Connor said. "That's the impression they get. That's why we want to change it."
Inducements are being offered to potential financial backers for the planned improvements.
For example, those who provide $3,000 or more at the top level would receive a Saturday afternoon private screening of any movie for up to 150 people -- depending on availability and licensing approval -- along with refillable popcorn and fountain drinks. Someone pledging $25 would get a Showtime Eatery coffee mug.
Barrington village board members in October approved a $2,642 facade improvement reimbursement to help pay for exterior work such as new awnings that have been installed at Showtime.
Village Trustee Jim Daluga said Barrington residents have a history of generously supporting village landmarks, such as the fundraising campaigns for the White House on Main Street and the Catlow digital projector effort. He's hopeful the Showtime crowdfunding will be successful.
"I'm not overly concerned," Daluga said. "I think they'll probably find a source of revenue that they need. If not, we'll just take it one step at a time."