One of Calgary’s most beloved historic cinema spaces has reopened Friday after a major lobby renovation and some new added features.
The Plaza Theatre had closed down earlier in the pandemic and has been under construction since July 2021 under new ownership.
“When it first shut down I was so saddened that it would be taken out of this neighbourhood and that condos would go up instead. We are thrilled that it’s up and running,” said area resident Amy Alexander. “I think it’s the core of Kensington, and without this Kensington wouldn’t be the same.”
First built as a garage in 1927, the structure just off of Kensington Road N.W. first operated as a theatre in 1935.
In addition to screening films, the location will feature a permanent food truck out front with rotating local chefs offering food that moviegoers can bring inside.
“As a single-screen cinema it’s really hard to survive just on tickets alone. So your concession really has to work for you and we were trying to figure out what we could do as the Plaza that would set us apart from competitors,” said Fatima Allie Dobrowolski, the new owner.
The lobby is now a splash of bubble gum and dusty rose pink as a converted cafe featuring coffee and treats from local providers like Phil & Sebastian’s Coffee, Our Daily Brett, Empire Provisions, among others.
The venue also now includes a bar for cocktails and craft beers pre- or post-film viewings.
“We were really struck by how everyone really talked about The Plaza being the hub of the community. People have gotten married here or done events here or saw their first film here and that’s really special,” said Dobrowolski.
CTV News caught up with one couple that tied the knot in the building in 2019.
“We had movie posters done up, we had a movie trailer for our wedding. It’s a very special location for us,” said Zach Trolley.
“It’s been a staple in the neighbourhood for ages. Being able to walk down and see a movie in your own neighbourhood is pretty cool,” said Connor McManus.
The Kensington Business Improvement Area says the return of the theatre is a bright spot for the area.
“We are a destination, and the reopening of The Plaza absolutely contributed to the well-being of this whole business district,” said Annie MacInnis, executive director.
The first film to be featured in the space is Belfast followed by Dune.