Renovated Arcada Theatre could reopen by Labor Day
For 15 years, Ron Onesti has dreamed of creating a "fantasy land" in St. Charles.
Now, he says he's on the verge of completing that dream with the transformation of the 94-year-old Arcada Theatre in St. Charles from an old-time rock n' roll house into a more dynamic and diverse entertainment venue.
A choice of eateries, a themed hotel, new and improved bathrooms and better climate control are among the amenities customers can expect when the Arcada reopens in about two months.
The 900-seat theater, which debuted Sept. 6, 1926, to a vaudeville audience, is midway through a total overhaul. Workers are putting the finishing touches on a $3 million renovation project, said Onesti, president and CEO of The Onesti Entertainment Corp., who manages the Arcada.
Construction on the project began in January, and the Arcada has been shut down since the coronavirus crisis struck in mid-March. The lockdown, though, has just "accelerated all my plans," Onesti said.
He and Arcada owners Curt and Conrad Hurst aim to create a unique entertainment and dining experience. They're constructing seven new venues -- four restaurants and three bars -- in the redesigned, repurposed theater building and the building next door, also purchased by the Hursts.
The Arcada and associated venues could reopen around Labor Day, Onesti said.
Upgrades include new sprinkler systems, energy-efficient electrical units and wiring, copper pipes to replace lead ones, touchless equipment in bathrooms and everywhere else, centralized hot water tanks, beer and soda distribution systems, walk-in coolers, and new paint and fixtures.
"It's a much more comfortable, safe and healthy environment," Onesti said.
The theater's first floor will house Rock 'N Za wood-fired pizza on the west corner where a former Starbucks was located. Arcada merchandise also will be sold there. The former RockStock store will be the new Bar-Cada, with a larger entrance, full-service bar and video gambling machines. The theater's ticket counter has been retrofitted with a 1940s-style box office and hi-boy tables.
Among the new eateries is Rock 'N Ravioli, an outdoor Venetian-style cafe with custom awnings, Italian lights and newly placed brick pavers. At the theater's entrance will be a new main bar with a 1920s vibe. The front theater floor where banquet-style chairs will be placed and stage have been refinished.
The second floor will house a large walk-in bar and an upscale, VIP event space designed like a country club. Onesti Entertainment's former corporate offices and the second floor of the former George's Sporting Goods in the building east of the Arcada are being transformed into The Arcadian Suites -- nine hotel rooms themed for Sinatra, Elvis, Zeppelin, the '60s, '70s, '80s, Motown and Nashville experiences. The Club Arcada Speakeasy on the third floor is getting new dance floors, a larger kitchen and server facilities.
"It will be the most interesting venue in the country for sure," Onesti said. "I am thrilled that we can show our loyal customers and our beloved bands just how much we appreciate them with better facilities and equipment to make their experience here memorable."