McHenry Downtown Theater holds grand opening, ribbon-cutting

McHENRY – More than 100 people came to the McHenry Downtown Theater to celebrate its grand opening Thursday.

The community-owned, three-screen movie theater has undergone extensive renovations in the past year and held its ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday. The city has been without its own indoor theater since 2014, and McHenry City Council members approved plans for its development in February 2017.

McHenry Mayor Wayne Jett invested in the theater in the beginning and has played a major role in completing the project, but he said he now will step away. A total of 26 community members are investors under the community-owned model.

“I think that is the same platform we are going to use for future opportunities in McHenry,” Jett said. “People who invested here want to invest in other opportunities. It’s not about the [return on investment] ... it is about bringing opportunities to the city of McHenry.”

Opening weekend will feature “Paddington 2” and “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” The third screening room is expected to open in the next couple of weeks with showings of “Black Panther.”

Tickets are $9 for adults and
$7 for children.

The theater also offers snacks and specialty flavored popcorn, including caramel, cheddar and a flavor of the month: cheddar bacon.

“There has been a lot of excitement and buzz about reopening the theater,” said Denny Norton, chairman of the McHenry Area Chamber of Commerce board. “All the people who have helped and put time and effort into it is pretty remarkable. … It’s very exciting for the city of McHenry and a catalyst for a lot of things to come.”  

The theater, located downtown near the McHenry Riverwalk,
1208 N. Green St., has 246 seats with an additional 60 available when the third screening room opens. It also has an arcade.

The $1.5 million overhaul of the building has included roof replacement, interior wall and floor work and facade improvements.

Jett said the theater is a sign of great things to come for the city.

“All of this has been special. It’s been a long time coming,” he said. “This is the beginning, not the end, of what we are going to do in McHenry.”

Dottie Renji of Delavan, Wisconsin, came to McHenry on Thursday for the ribbon-cutting ceremony. She said she used to work at the theater as a teenager and was happy to see it reopen.

“It’s wonderful,” she said. “It’s really nice to see it restored so people can have fun again.”

The addition of Woodstock-based D.C. Cobb’s is expected next month. The restaurant plans to serve specialty burgers, craft beer, appetizers and other pub-style fare similar to its Woodstock menu. Owner Dan Hart also plans to offer rooftop and patio dining.

Wonder Lake resident Mary Bonilla said she plans to visit the theater often.

“We are movie nuts,” she said. “We love movies. We love that it’s so close to home. I am very happy.”

Scott Dehn, who manages the theater and owns the McHenry Outdoor Theater, said seeing the turnout Wednesday and Thursday already has made the hard work worth it.

“A lot of hard work has gone into this, from years ago when we first started talking about it,” he said. “It’s a pleasure to finally say welcome to the McHenry Downtown Theater. We have been waiting to say this for so long. To be able to look out at the crowd and see the smiles on everyone’s faces really cemented into our hearts the reason we did this.”

For showtimes, visit www.mchenrydowntowntheater.com.

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