PORTAGE PARK — The heat should be back on in about 10 days at the Patio Theater, the owner of former movie palace said Friday.
But even if it takes repair crews longer than expected to repair the theater's broken boiler — which dates back to 1927, when the movie palace opened its doors — no screenings will be canceled, owner Demetri Kouvalis said.
The latest setback for the theater has been disheartening, Kouvalis said. The theater's air conditioning broke in the spring, and Kouvalis — whose family has owned the theater since 1987 — has been struggling to keep its doors open in the face of mounting repair bills and dwindling attendance.
"It has been a perfect storm of catastrophes," Kouvalis said. "I'm just trying to keep the theater open at this point."
It will cost between $17,000 and $18,000 to fix the boiler, Kouvalis said.
The heat should be back on by Nov. 16 or Nov. 17, in time for a screening of the documentary "Vanning," which examines the culture of van conversions, and the digital release of WTTW's Wild Chicago that documented eccentric characters and hidden gems throughout the Windy City.
If the boiler is still broken, portable heaters will keep moviegoers warm and toasty, Kouvalis said.
After being closed for regular shows during the summer because of the lack of air conditioning, Kouvalis ended the showing of second-run Hollywood films, and revamped theater's business plan to focus on classic films and to rent out the theater for special events and parties.
"The new business plan has been going well," Kouvalis said. "We want to keep that momentum going."
Kouvalis missed a deadline to apply for a Small Business Improvement Fund grant from the city that could have covered the cost of repairing the Patio's air conditioning and the heat, Ald. Tim Cullerton (38th) said.
Kouvalis said he could not complete all of the paperwork required by the city by the deadline because his business partner was out of town.
"We'll try again in December," Kouvalis said.
In addition, the Patio will no longer be home to the Northwest Chicago Film Society, which announced earlier this week that the lack of heat would force it to move to the Gene Siskel Film Center downtown through the end of December.
Rebecca Hall, the film society's executive director, said she was frustrated to have to leave another 1920s-era movie palace on the Far Northwest Side.
Even though it had no air conditioning, the Patio reopened this summer to accommodate the film society, which found itself locked out of the Portage Theater when owner Eddie Carranza shuttered it as part of a dispute with Ald. John Arena (45th).
"It is a totally frustrating situation," Hall said, adding that the film society needed to offer its viewers assurance that the screenings would take place as scheduled. "It is much harder to cope with no heat than no air conditioning."
"Who knows what the future holds, but we would love to come back to the Patio," Hall said. "It was such a good fit."
Hall said the film society is sad to leave the Far Northwest Side, where it has shown classic and obscure films since it was founded in 2011, even temporarily.
"We will miss the neighborhood," Hall said. "But maybe we'll get more people to come back with us."