Portage Theater slated to reopen on June 14
by BRIAN NADIG
The Portage Theater, 4050 N. Milwaukee Ave., is scheduled to re-open June 14, a year after the owner of the building closed it to find a new operator.
Building owner Eddie Carranza reportedly has turned over operation of the theater to Charlie Burns of the Xblu marketing company. Carranza also owns the Congress Theater, 2135 N. Milwaukee Ave., and he has been trying to sell that theater after it was closed by the city due to liquor license and building code violations.
Last year Carranza purchased the Portage Theater’s management company, but there was doubt whether the city would allow that the theater’s licenses to be transferred to him because of his problems at the Congress. Alderman John Arena (45th) said that he would oppose the transfer of the Portage’s liquor and public place of amusement licenses to Carranza until he demonstrated that he could run the theater responsibly.
There are no licensing issues which would delay the opening of the Portage, according to the city Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection. "All their licenses are valid," department spokeswoman Mika Stambaugh said. "They could open tomorrow.
The licenses are held by Finest Management LLC, of which Burns is the president and secretary, according to the department. A change of corporate officers on the theater’s liquor, amusement and food licenses was recently filed.
The theater’s licenses expired last August, but it remained closed during the grace period in which the licenses were being reinstated and then transferred to the corporation owned by Burns, who passed the department’s background test, Stambaugh said. "It’s in our department’s best interests to keep businesses open," she said.
Arena issued the following statement: "We’re working to make sure that Mr. Burns is aware of the expectations of the community, both in the type of programming that they will support and the type of behavior they expect from him and his patrons. We are cautiously optimistic.
"We look forward to the Portage Theater’s contribution to the resurgence of Six Corners. With new businesses and restaurants opening at a steady clip, that resurgence is already under way. A properly managed Portage Theater has the potential to propel that resurgence even further."
The theater will open with several shows on June 14, which is the first day of the annual "Six Corners BBQ Fest" that is in the Six Corners shopping district, Milwaukee and Cicero avenues and Irving Park Road. The events planned are a free comedy show at 4 p.m., a free silent movie presentation with live organ music at 6 p.m., and a performance by a Doors tribute band at 9 p.m., with tickets ranging from $10 to $15.
About 20 events, including several rock tribute concerts and classic movie presentations, are scheduled for the theater this summer.
The theater, which was built in 1920, has about 1,300 seats. Carranza also owns several other properties on the block.
The Portage Theater, 4050 N. Milwaukee Ave., is scheduled to reopen on June 14.
The theater, which was built in 1920, has been closed for a year. It will reopen during the annual "Six Corners BBQ Fest."
(Photo by Cyryl Jakubowski)