Patio Theater closing for summer for repair
by BRIAN NADIG
The Patio Theater, 6008 W. Irving Park Road, will be closed for the summer due to a broken air conditioning system, and it may be reopen in the fall under a new business model.
Theater owner Demetri Kouvalis said that the theater will close in early June. The theater reopened in 2011 after being closed for about 10 years.
The theater has been showing movies several weeks after their release, but Kouvalis said he wants to expand the theater’s live programming and rental business and that he is considering operating the theater on a nonprofit basis. He said that it is difficult for an older single-screen theater to compete with the amenities at new multiplexes.
Kouvalis said that if the Patio Theater widens its entertainment mix, it could be difficult to continue showing first-run movies regularly but that he would like to offer more classic movies. He said that the movie industry requires that the theaters show new releases a minimum number of times each week, and the theater could struggle to meet those requirements.
Kouvalis hoped to pay for repairs to the air conditioning system with a portion of a $100,000 Small Business Improvement Fund grant that he was seeking from the city, but his application was picked near the bottom of a lottery that all of the 15 applicants were required to enter because there was not enough funds to cover all the applications. “I was picked 13th, and there was only funds for the first eight or nine,” he said.
Alderman Timothy Cullerton (38th) said that the Patio has helped revitalize the commercial district at Irving Park Road and Austin Avenue and that he plans to see if additional funds from the West Irving Park Tax Increment Financing District can be added to the SBIF program. The program, which is funded through TIF district funds, pays for improvements to small businesses.
Cullerton said that he understands that the city has over-budgeted for the 12 projects chosen before the application for the Patio Theater and that funds could eventually become available for the theater.
Also in the area, the city recently obtained a court order to have a vacant building at 6038-42 W. Irving Park Road cleaned up, Cullerton said. The owner of the building reportedly found out about the court order after a clean-up crew set off an alarm in one the three storefronts in the building.