Patio Theater

6008 W. Irving Park

Oddly the city’s best new theater was built in 1927. A relic of the movie-palace era, the Patio Theater at Austin and Irving Park was shut down in 2001 after its air-conditioning system conked out and its owner, Alexander Kouvalis, could no longer afford to keep the place open. Kouvalis’s 22-year-old son, Demetri, reopened the Patio earlier this month following an extensive rehab, and it’s gorgeous. The theater recalls the main room of the Music Box—done in red, with statuary inset in the walls and a starry sky above—but it’s much larger, with nearly 1,500 seats. A white, patterned proscenium arch frames the screen, and in back a horizontal walk separates the main floor from the broad balcony, which was roped off during the Sunday matinee I attended. The acoustics are excellent, and the movie I saw sounded great. Unfortunately that movie was Thor. To keep such a large theater in business, Demetri wants to make the Patio as family-friendly as possible: admission is only $5, shows are every two and a half hours, and concession prices are reasonable. Once the business starts firming up he hopes to add midnight shows, which is good news; the Patio has too sweet a room to be squandered on blockbusters. —J.R. Jones