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Patio Theater Put On Ice For Summer

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The historic Patio Theater, 6008 W. Irving Park, will close for the summer because of a faulty air conditioning system.

Patio owner Demetri Kouvalis entered a lottery for a Small Business Improvement Fund (SBIF) grant from the city that typically goes for interior remodeling and storefront improvements. The Patio (what locals call the pay-show) was a no show , finishing 13th out of 15 applications from West Irving Park. The SBIF money only covered nine projects.

"It was completely luck based," Kouvalis said on Tuesday.

The 86-year-old theater will go dark around June 1 and reopen under a different business plan in September.

"About 90 per cent of operating single screen theaters in America are non-profit," Kouvalis said. "If that is a route we have to take I will look into. That definitely is a possibility."

The Patio air conditioning system is not original. Kouvalis guessed it was installed in the 1950s.

"I got an estimate today and was told it would cost $42,000," he said. "Utilities are the hardest thing in operating an old theater; heating and air conditioning." Kouvalis did use a Kickstarter campaign to buy a new digital projector, a necessity for all of today's movie theaters.

Ald. Tim Cullerton's 38th ward covers the Patio.
He is trying to lend a helping hand by reloading the TIF fund which feeds the SBIF fund.

"We're looking into that right now," Cullerton said Tuesday. "I contacted the Department of Housing and Economic Development to see if there is enough money in our West Irving Park TIF to roll over some more money. We put the Patio on a waiting list. When all the projects are done, they may have a surplus and that rolls over to numbers 10, 11, 12 and so on.
"Since it opened (in mid-2011) the theater has helped a number of businesses over there and the business district overall. They run a lot of movies that are suitable for families and kids so we hate to see them close down for any reason. My Mom and Dad used to go to that theater. I was amazed he raised the $80,000 he needed for the digital projector. It is an indication of how much the community wants him to stay there."

The Patio opened in 1927 with a screening of "The Blonde Saint."

It is not known if "Body Heat" ever played at the Patio.

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"Body Heat" did indeed play at the Patio. I wanted to see it the first day it came out. It opened at the Patio. When I got to the neighborhood I noticed the line waiting to buy tickets extended to Austin Avenue and wrapped around the corner--almost to the alley. I knew it would be sold out. The Patio used to show first-run movies.

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