There are theaters, and there are experiences. The Arcada Theatre, a fixture in downtown St. Charles for 95 years, is much more of the latter, especially after a renovation that promises to make this theater a true destination.
Behind it all is Ron Onesti, president and CEO of Onesti Entertainment. His Chicago-area firm produces concerts, events and festivals across the country, and it’s a proud overseer of the Arcada.
Last year’s shutdown of arts venues gave him just the opening he needed to breathe new life into the theater. Updates include new restaurants, a bar area and a boutique hotel.
When longtime fans approach the building, they’ll notice something new right away: a former Starbucks has been replaced with Rock ‘N Za, a wood-fired pizza restaurant that also serves Chicago-style hot dogs and ice cream.
Inside, there’s also Rock ‘N Ravioli, an Italian restaurant that features some of Onesti’s homemade recipes. It has a Venetian-style cafe and a small stage.
The second floor has a larger bar and VIP area, in addition to 11 themed hotel suites that each play on the venue’s connections to performers of yesteryear.
The Club Arcada speakeasy, located on the third floor, has updated dance floors and an expanded menu.
Of course, anyone who’s visited Arcada in the past 15 years knows the real highlight is the theater’s constant lineup of big-name entertainers and top tribute acts, and the current lineup includes an impressive array of talent.
The holiday season kicks off with a Steely Dan tribute on Nov. 27, followed by a Carpenters Christmas on Nov. 28. December brings comedian Carrot Top, Chris Isaak’s holiday tour, a Queen tribute, .38 Special, Kenny G, Trans Infinity Orchestra (a Trans Siberian holiday salute), and a Silent Film night, just for fun.
“There are very few theaters in the country that have hosted more Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Famers than ours,” Onesti says. “When it comes to music from the ’20s through the ’80s, very few theaters can compete with us.”
For a full lineup and to order tickets, visit arcadalive.com. ❚
Arcada Theatre is located at 105 E. Main St., St. Charles, (630) 962-7000.