LAKEVIEW — Visitors to the historic Music Box Theatre could soon have a place to lounge before a film — and a new concession stand from which to buy beer and wine.
The theater bought the White Birch building next door, 3735 N. Southport Ave., and plans to convert it into a lounge and waiting area that can also be used for special events, said general manager Dave Jennings.
When the Music Box was constructed in 1929, theaters didn't have spaces for people to hang out, Jennings said. It was "get people in, get people out" — far different from today's theaters, he said.
"They're much more of a community gathering space and an opportunity for people to discuss what they're seeing and interact with each other," Jennings said.
The Music Box is taking the opportunity to also demolish its current concession stand, a contraption that was built out by the props department of the John Hughes movie "Curly Sue," Jennings said.
The theater added a version of the current stand in the mid-1940s. Then crews working on Hughes' 1991 movie built the stand to film some scenes in the theater's lobby.
But practically speaking, everything about the concessions stand needs to be changed, Jennings said, especially now that the theater serves alcohol.
"It's incredibly awkward," he said. "It's small. It's only got one place where people can purchase anything from, which makes things pretty difficult when you have 700 people in line for popcorn."
A new stand will offer more storage space and cashiers for people to purchase booze, coffee and popcorn to bring into the lounge before or after films.
The lounge itself will be filled with tables, chairs and couches, all of which can be moved aside for events like visits from directors, film discussion groups and wine tastings, Jennings said.
The theater still needs to file for permits and licenses, but Jennings hopes the new concessions stand and lounge will be functional by late fall.
Once that happens, the Music Box will be able to host more events — from VIP sessions with directors to Christmas parties before annual holiday sing-a-longs.
"We’re really bursting at the seams with everything we do," he said.
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