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Des Plaines turns to familiar name in suburban entertainment to operate historic theater

Des Plaines is poised to pick a familiar name in suburban show business to operate its historic downtown theater.

The city council is expected to vote Monday on a deal to lease the Des Plaines Theatre to Onesti Entertainment Corporation, which will book shows and operate a restaurant at the 1925 Art Deco-style building at 1476 Miner St.

Ron Onesti, the president of the company, said he realizes the project is important to Des Plaines residents and business owners.

“Let me just make it clear that this is all subject to the city council approval, and if it does go through, I would consider it an honor and responsibility that I wouldn’t take lightly,” Onesti said.

City officials began searching for a company to run the day-to-day operations of the theater in July 2018 and interviewed three firms. The city council interviewed two of those companies and then authorized City Manager Mike Bartholomew to negotiate the lease agreement with Onesti.

Bartholomew cited Onesti’s track record of success operating the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles as a reason for choosing his company as the finalist. Onesti also operates Rock ‘N Ravioli Restaurant and Music Hall and the Bourbon ‘N Brass Speakeasy Jazz Club in Evanston.

“We were aligned on the vision of the theater,” Bartholomew said. “We want the theater to be an experience. We want people to go to the theater, no matter what the show is.”

Under the proposed five-year agreement, the city will lease the theater to Onesti for free during its first six months of operations and $10,000 per month the next six months. Rent will increase to $12,000 per month the second year, $14,000 per month the third year, $16,000

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