The DNAinfo archives brought to you by WNYC.
Read the press release here.

Patio Theater To Reopen, Will Be Managed By Portage Theater Crew

By Heather Cherone | November 20, 2014 10:57am
 The  Patio Theater  will reopen Dec. 4 under the management of  Portage Theater  owner Eddie Carranza's team, who leased the former movie palace closed since April.
Patio Theater Reopening
View Full Caption

PORTAGE PARK — The Patio Theater will reopen Dec. 4 under the management of Portage Theater owner Eddie Carranza's team, which leased the former movie palace closed since April.

Patio Theater owner Demetri Kouvalis said he was relieved that its marquee would once again light up the sky along the western edge of Portage Park.

"It is bittersweet," Kouvalis said Thursday morning after the Patio Theater's website was updated to feature a list of events that includes a Dec. 4 screening of "Strange Deer: Naughty is the New Nice," which stars the Harlem Nights Players in a series of sketches lampooning the holiday season. "I'm happy we found someone who wants to use it as a theater."

Kouvalis, whose family has owned the theater at 6008 W. Irving Park Road since 1987, said he was sad to end his family's legacy at the theater.

"It will be better to have it open while we try to sell it," Kouvalis said, adding that he plans to have nothing to do with the operation of the theater.

The Portage Theater management team, which reports to Carranza, will operate the theater on an interim basis while a final agreement to sell the theater is completed to one of several interested parties, Kouvalis said.

Carranza referred questions on Thursday about the Patio Theater to Charlie Burns, whom Carranza chose to manage day to day operations at the Portage Theater.

While movies ranging from family favorites, documentaries and independent movies will be shown at the Patio, Burns said he planned to bring comedy shows, theater and music shows to the theater near Austin Avenue and Irving Park Road.

Burns said he would operate the Patio Theater on his own, with no involvement from Carranza.

However, Burns said he hoped Carranza would buy the Patio Theater.

"I would prefer to work with [Carranza] again," Burns said. "I’ve learned a lot from him and he has the independent spirit necessary to bring historic buildings back to life."

Programming at the Portage Theater and the Patio Theater will share resources and "compliment" each other, Burns said.

Joe Basilone, who owns the Thrift & Thrive Resale Shop and Perkolator Cafe, said the re-opening of the theater was exciting.

"The theater is a powerhouse for the Irving Austin Business District," said Basilone, who co-founded the Irving Austin Business District. "It'll be great to have it back open. It can't be anything but great."

In April, Carranza told DNAinfo Chicago that he was interested in purchasing the Patio Theater, only to say several hours later he meant to say only that he wanted to help the owner of the Patio Theater by sharing his expertise in the Chicago theater industry.

Kouvalis said in April he was uninterested in selling the Patio to Carranza because of his track record at the Portage, which he abruptly shut down in May 2013, and the Congress Theater in Logan Square, which was shuttered after city officials yanked Carranza's liquor license and declared it unsafe because of building code violations.

However, the 94-year-old Portage Theater has been operating smoothly since June when it reopened under Burns' management, officials said.

Last month, Burns said the Portage Theater, 4050 N. Milwaukee Ave., would begin showing more new, independent films in an effort to attract a younger, more diverse audience.

Ald. Tim Cullerton (38th) said Thursday the news came as a complete surprise to him.

“I’m glad to hear something is going on there, but the fact that I was in the dark concerns me,” Cullerton said.

Carranza’s track record is worrisome, Cullerton said.

“I don’t have any comfort level with him,” Cullerton said.

Cullerton said he favored landmark status for the Randolph Wolff-designed former movie palace built in 1927, which had its interior restored in 2011. The auditorium's ceiling features a replica of a night sky, complete with twinkling stars and moving clouds.

The Patio was closed from 2001 to 2010, and two years ago, Kouvalis raised more than $54,000 on Kickstarter to purchase a new digital projector, and reopened the theater to regular shows.

For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here: