Owner of West Chicago's Cascade Drive-In says it must close
One of the region's last drive-in movie theaters, the Cascade in West Chicago, will not open for the "2019 season and beyond," owner Jeff Kohlberg said Friday in a social media post.
Owners of the land the theater leased along North Avenue are trying to sell the site, Kohlberg said, and that means his business will be unable to continue the "rare entertainment" of outdoor movies for customers to view from their cars.
The Cascade had operated on 28 acres at 1100 E. North Ave. since 1961 with the tagline "Movies Under the Stars." Last season, it was one of just two drive-ins in the area, surviving along with the McHenry Outdoor Theater as a vestige of yesteryear.
When it closed for the season last fall, Kohlberg said, he knew its lease was expiring Dec. 31, leaving its future uncertain. But on Friday, he said the theater's run sadly has to end.
"Not often that you see a thriving business close," he wrote in a Facebook post. "But it's out of our hands."
The theater will sell Cascade hoodies after 4 p.m. Saturday, March 23, "so come on out and get a piece of nostalgia," Kohlberg wrote. The theater also is selling equipment including popcorn poppers, food warmers, freezers, grills, a hot chocolate machine and a golf cart.
The closing comes as the Kuhn family works to sell the Cascade property and adjacent land on which it once operated Harry Kuhn Construction. The 53-acre site is zoned for estate residential construction within West Chicago, but Stephen Kuhn and the real estate broker his family hired say they are seeking retail uses for along North Avenue and light industrial uses farther south.
Within an hour of Kohlberg's post Friday, it had drawn 968 comments and been shared by 2,247 people.
Kohlberg thanked the customers who came out during the theater's 57-year run and reminisced about the experience of showing first-run films on a giant outdoor screen.
"Thank you so much," his post told readers. "Our hearts are broken!"