After owning the Plaza Theatre for five years, Chris Escobar recently signed a 25 year lease on the historic property. His first objective as the long-term owner is to begin renovations and restorations. The theatre was opened all the way back in 1939 and is the oldest of its kind in Atlanta as well as a city landmark.
Up to this point, Esobar has stayed rather reserved when it comes to any significant changes because of the history involved. The only moves under his ownership have been the addition of a theatre organ and a minor stage modification to accommodate the “Rocky Horror Live” production. Now, there are a few higher goals in mind as Escobar wants to begin a new chapter for the Plaza.
“It’s what is probably the most significant investment in the Plaza’s history since it was built, and so we’re talking about, ultimately, a $4 million restoration and renovation and revitalization,” said Escobar.
While sustainability, energy conservation, and water usage are heavily featured in the plans, the most notable change will be the addition of a rooftop bar and patio where people can enjoy an outdoor area when the weather is nice.
“It’s no secret that movie theaters were especially hit along with live theaters and museums during COVID, and so the places that had a permanent outdoor space were able to adapt more easily,” explained Escobar.
COVID obviously imposed some serious struggles on places like theatres, but there are some fantastic innovations caused by the pandemic that will stick around. Specifically, partnered restaurants in the same area as the Plaza like the Righteous Room, Southern Belle, and Fishmonger will deliver food directly to patrons who can order from their seats.
To wrap up renovations, the bathrooms and backstage areas will receive updates, and the theatre will add its first elevator.
“The Plaza, in its over 80 years, has never had handicap accessibility,” explained Escobar. “As a historic theater, we aren’t required to add accessibility, but we’re trying to serve a hundred percent of the community.”
Finally, the Plaza’s auditoriums will have their names changed to the Lafont, the Reg, and the Mike in honor of the historic cinema’s original owners!