Ramova Theatre has reopened in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood as a live music venue, craft brewery, beer garden and grill. The project is the culmination of years-long rehabilitation efforts alongside multi-million dollar public and private investments into the South Side Chicago community, which will invigorate Bridgeport as a premier live entertainment destination.
Since beginning operations in 1929, Ramova served as the Bridgeport neighborhood’s primary movie theater until it shuttered its doors 1985 after its final screening of “Police Academy 2.” The theatre earned a place on the National Register of Historic Places in 2021 after years of grassroots campaigning from community members. In 2017, developer Tyler Nevius became an investor and owner to oversee the complete reimagining and rehabilitation of the beloved neighborhood theatre.
Working with Architect Dan O’Riley of O’Riley Office in Chicago, the theatre has been completely re envisioned into a 1,500+ person live music venue and destination space after standing dormant for more than 30 years. Not only will the theatre bring top touring acts to Bridgeport, but Ramova will also offer educational programs, workshops, and amplify community initiatives from local non-profits. Things might look slightly different than neighbors might remember, but the soul of Ramova will be stronger than ever.
“We’re on a mission to revive this theatre the right way,” said Nevius adding, “we’re doing a complete rehabilitation to this pillar in the community, bringing back its historic grill, creating a world class entertainment space, adding a brewery where we hope people will meet their new best friends. We’re working closely alongside locals who have kept this space standing to allow us this opportunity to do something special for Bridgeport and Chicago.”
Brooklyn’s Other Half Brewing has partnered with Ramova, and they will exclusively brew recipes out of the brewery, which is Other Half Ramova. The brewery aims to build on Other Half’s neighborhood legacy by fostering community in Bridgeport like they do in Brooklyn – making Ramova a place for neighbors to share pints, swap a new playlist or unwind before, during and after shows at the theatre. On top of crafts, Other Half Ramova will offer various collaborations and taps from Chicago’s most beloved breweries.
Ramova Grill, which initially closed in 2012 after an 82-year run in Bridgeport, will reopen as a 20-seat restaurant attached to Other Half Ramova. Partners Kevin Hickey and Brandon Phillips of The Duck Inn will oversee the culinary and beverage programs of the grill, respectively. The food menu will be an ode to the neighborhood, as well as offer snackable and shareable bites. Diners should expect dishes like sandwiches, burgers and fries and chili — Ramova Grill’s signature dish. Dishes will feature high quality ingredients with a slightly elevated preparation to match the reimagined Ramova Theatre. The restaurant will lead directly into Other Half Ramova, and diners will be able to order from the grill while enjoying crafts from Other Half Brewing, or bring the goods out to the beer garden, which is a wildly spacious outdoor space for pre- and post-show drinks.
Ramova has tapped Sarah Loberg to serve as the Director of Food & Beverage for the brewery, grill and theatre. She brings with her more than a decade of experience in the hospitality industry and has overseen operations and food & beverage programming with groups like Land & Sea Dept, The Wing, and most recently The X Company, developing their X Social Club concept in Denver and Phoenix. Loberg is excited to be back in the Chicago hospitality community, working alongside Chef Hickey and Brandon Philips to bring Ramova food and cocktail menus to life.
Familiar faces from the Chicago music scene joining the project include Peter Falknor as Director of Operations and Kyle LaValley, Programming & Creative Director. LaValley will seek the nation’s top touring acts to perform at Ramova, and will oversee marketing and creative direction for the complex. Falknor brings his operational background as general manager for landmark Chicago venues The Empty Bottle, Thalia Hall, and House of Blues to the project.
The development is backed by the husband and wife team of Tyler and Emily Nevius. The pair are lead investors in the rehabilitation and live in Bridgeport with their three daughters. Tyler acts as the project lead for the space, having built a diverse investment group and board while also working alongside Chicago officials to fund the project. Emily will supervise the non-profit outreach for Ramova, with a mission to amplify the already robust programs being run by Bridgeport’s non-profit organizations.
For more information on the theatre’s opening, programming and FAQ visit www.ramovachicago.com and follow us on socials @ramovachicago.