SOUTHPORT CORRIDOR — In those golden days of the silver screen, movie theaters held a special charm and served as neighborhood gathering spots — something the Music Box Theatre wants to become.
"Movie theaters used to be the hub of the community, and we want to start that up again. We want our neighbors to come here and enjoy themselves," said Alex Peters, lounge manager for the theater.
The theater at 3733 N. Southport Ave. has been working to develop that old-time charm for the past year. After purchasing the next-door storefront that formerly housed White Birch Trading Co., renovations began last summer and were completed by February for a new lounge and bar area.
The newly opened lounge at Music Box Theatre. [Ariel Cheung/DNAinfo Chicago]
The newly opened lounge includes a secondary bar area and a large projector screen. The theater hopes patrons will use the quiet, classy lounge for community meetings or to grab a drink — whether they came to see a movie or not.
"It's just a place where our neighbors can come enjoy a cocktail, a place where you don't have to be shoulder-to-shoulder with that guy in the Patrick Kane jersey upset because [Corey] Crawford let the goal pass. That's not always what you want," Peters said.
Ariel Cheung discusses the atmosphere the Music Box is aiming for:
Music Box Theatre plans to renovate the outdoor patio behind its newly opened lounge. (Ariel Cheung/DNAinfo Chicago)
With the lounge up and running, Music Box is turning its sights on its own backyard. The theater wants to renovate the patio behind the new lounge and open it to customers, as well.
"Think of the lounge as your living room, and that's your back patio. We want this to be a place for our neighbors to enjoy," Peters said.
The theater met with Southport Neighbors on Monday to ask for their support in building the patio. Peters assured attendees there would be no outdoor music playing or bright lights disturbing neighbors. Service would end at 10 p.m. every night.
The patio will have ivy-covered lattices and seating for about 15 people. Peters said buying supplies from Southport Corridor businesses was another way the theater supports the neighborhood.
"Southport is blowing up, and it's going to be amazing. If we're all a part of it, just working together, it could be one of the best streets in Chicago," Peters said.
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