Calgary

New tenants lease Kensington's historic Plaza Theatre

Kensington's independent movie theatre will reopen as a theatre, as tenants transform the space with a new vision in mind.

'Everyone in Calgary has a story about the Plaza, we kind of want that to continue on into the future'

The Plaza Theatre in Kensington is under renovation, as new tenants get ready to bring the screen back to life. (Mike Symington/CBC)

Kensington's independent movie theatre will reopen as a theatre with tenants transforming the space to include their new vision.

The doors of the Plaza, located in northwest Calgary, have been closed for more than a year with COVID-19 affecting businesses around the city including movie theatres.

Last summer, the outside marquee read "For Lease." Now, it's displaying the words "If We Build It."

New long-term leaseholder Fatima Allie Dobrowolski says she hopes people will come.

"We were always worried that if this was ever sold, it would get torn down and it wouldn't be a theatre anymore. So we jumped on it," Dobrowolski said. "Everyone in Calgary has a story about the Plaza, whether something they saw there or an event they ran. We kind of want that to continue on into the future."

Dinner and a movie

Dobrowolski said the venue will remain a theatre but will also house an all-day cafe and patio outside, allowing movie-goers to grab a quick bite before the flick, while also allowing the food to be taken into the auditorium. 

"We're going to have a food truck on the outside, and it's a permanent food truck … the idea is we'd showcase local chefs, who would take it over for three to four months," Dobrowolski said.

"So the experience coming in, say, January to March, would be different in April because there'd be a new chef with a new cuisine. And we felt that way we could really reflect the community of Calgary."

'We hope basically that as soon as everyone's out again they'll be coming back to the theatre … you know, we've had a year to watch things at home on our own, on our couch,' said new long-term leaseholder of the Plaza, Fatima Allie Dobrowolski. (Mike Symington/CBC)

The executive director of Kensington's Business Improvement Area, Annie MacInnis, said she believes the Plaza's reopening will help revitalize the neighbourhood.

"The area where the Plaza theatre is, is kind of the heart of Kensington," MacInnis said. "Having this theatre reopened,  having the ability to do what we've done in past years … it's just so exciting. We'll probably celebrate when it reopens."

MacInnis said the new tenants are also hoping to be licensed by the time they open, to allow drinks in the venue as well.

Renovations are underway and an opening date has yet to be announced.

With files from Mike Symington

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