“After hanging on for two-and-a-half years, the historic Patio Theater is bringing back more events, concerts and other shows as entertainment life reawakens.
Like many music venues, the nearly 30,000-square-foot theater at 6008 W. Irving Park Road closed its doors at the start of 2020 and only reopened at the beginning of the year with in-person performances and COVID-19 guidelines. But they’ve not yet returned to staging the number of shows in a consistent schedule as before the pandemic, owner Chris Bauman said.
Bauman renovated parts of the theater while it was closed, repainting and replacing parts of the marquee, fixing the canopy and parts of the roof that were caving in, adding fresh coats of paint on the walls and a new electrical system.
Bauman, who took over the 1,500-seat theater in late 2019, has also been busy booking acts for the end of this year and already has performers lined up for fall 2023 in an effort to bring back live music and entertainment to the 95-year-old venue that is a Far Northwest Side treasure.
“‘We’re going to be having some amazing talent starting to come back through here again … everyone who has performed here, some are gonna be returning,’ he said. ‘But we are also going to be bringing a lot of new talent that hasn’t performed here because they’ve heard about it.”’
“The theater was built in 1927 by three brothers: William, John and George Mitchell. During its early years, the Patio screened movies like the silent film ‘The Blonde Saint’ and was home to vaudeville performers and the eight-member Patio Symphony Orchestra.
“Neighbors have been hoping to see the theater thrive again after closing and reopening several times under different owners in the last eight years. Chris Touwaide, co-owner of Bistro 6050 at 6050 W. Irving Park Road who also lives on the block, said Bauman has been a good neighbor who can help revive the Portage Park strip.
“The Patio Theater also plans to relaunch its membership program, which started during the pandemic but had trouble getting off the ground, Bauman said. Members will get free and discounted concert tickets, unlimited access to all Patio Theater-sponsored movies and members-only events.
“Despite the pandemic slowing down plans, Bauman said he is committed to restoring the historic structure, and making it a mainstay for the community and the city’s independent music scene — especially as other historic theaters such as the Portage Theater and the Congress Theater have not yet reopened due to ownership and financial setbacks.
“‘All of these buildings should be protected,’ he said. ‘I think the model is you can’t shut these things down — you shut them down, they fall apart. And so you need to keep them operating with the right people.’ (Parrella-Aureli, Block Club Chicago, 10/6/22)