Renovated Des Plaines Theatre expected to reopen this summer

As the $6 million renovation of the Des Plaines Theatre nears completion, the entrepreneur whose company will operate the venue said it should be ready for patrons this summer.

The city-owned theater and its two in-house restaurants - Bourbon 'N Brass and Des Pizza - should open simultaneously in August, Ron Onesti, president and CEO of Onesti Entertainment, said Monday.

The first wave of employees should be reporting to work in July, Onesti said.

The project update came the same day the Des Plaines City Council approved a conditional use permit that formally allows the St. Charles-based company to run the theater, which is on the 1400 block of Miner Street and is a centerpiece of the downtown district.

Mike McMahon, the city's director of community and economic development, called it a matter of "housekeeping."

Des Plaines has handled the renovation so far. Onesti's team will add theater lighting and other finishing touches.

"They should be handing the property over to (us) within the next few weeks," Onesti said. "I will need about four to six weeks to finish my part of the process."

An entertainment schedule hasn't yet been publicized.

The Des Plaines Theatre opened in 1925 as a venue for live performances. It transitioned to showing movies in 1935 and continued in that role until it shuttered in 2014.

The city bought the building in 2018 for nearly $1.3 million, with officials counting on a revitalized theater to help create a thriving entertainment and restaurant district downtown.

The theater originally was expected to open last summer or fall, but that was pushed back because of the COVID-19 pandemic and other factors, Des Plaines spokeswoman Jennie Vana said.

Des Plaines' Rivers Casino contributed $2.2 million to assist the city with the purchase and renovation but doesn't have an ownership stake in the facility.

The city council struck a five-year deal with Onesti to lease and run the theater in 2019. Onesti also operates the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles and other suburban entertainment and dining venues.

The permit approved Monday isn't the last bureaucratic step for the theater. Onesti Entertainment still needs to obtain a local business registration certificate, to pass health inspections and to be granted liquor licenses from both the state and the city, Vana said.

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The interior of the Des Plaines Theatre on Miner Street. The venue is expected to reopen this summer following an extensive renovation. Courtesy of Onesti Entertainment
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