Arcada Theatre President and CEO Ron Onesti beams with pride standing underneath the album covers on the ceiling of the St. Charles venue's Rock 'N Za restaurant. // Mark Welsh | Daily Herald

Renovated Arcada Theatre set to reopen this weekend with two concerts

After being closed for 16 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the historic Arcada Theatre reopens this weekend in downtown St. Charles.

It’s the start of the Roaring ’20s, part two.

That’s how Ron Onesti describes the excitement of reopening the historic Arcada Theatre this weekend after a 16-month closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The president and CEO of the venue is thrilled about the return of sold-out shows at the downtown St. Charles landmark that first opened during the original Roaring ’20s in 1926.

“You think about how it was in the Roaring ’20s,” Onesti said. “The jazz age was born. People were getting dressed up and dancing. That’s what we’re trying to revive here.”

Onesti said visitors to the 900-seat theater will be impressed by the improvements made during a $3 million renovation project that began last year before the pandemic. Arcada owners Frontier Development LLC, operated by local developers Curt and Conrad Hurst, modernized the facility and added new attractions while maintaining the location’s charm and grandeur.

“Entertainment is back,” St. Charles Mayor Lora Vitek said. “So exciting, and coming right off a holiday weekend. Ron Onesti and the Hursts have worked so hard to bring this back for our city.”

In addition to improving the look of the theater, the developers installed a new HVAC system, new bathrooms and other amenities to enhance the visitor experience.

“It’s jaw-dropping,” Onesti said. “It’s awe-inspiring. It’s maximum comfort for the people. It’s not only an iconic music venue. It’s like a beautiful piece of jewelry.”

Booked with shows the rest of this year and deep into 2022, the Arcada Theatre kicks off its schedule with The Chicago Experience on Saturday and Herman’s Hermits Starring Peter Noone on Sunday.

Onesti said the priority in creating the calendar was rescheduling shows that had to be canceled last year. Peter Noone is the first of many rescheduled shows.

The reopening of the Arcada Theatre comes in the wake of the May reopening of the Club Arcada Speakeasy, a more intimate music venue on the Arcada site that’s part of the Onesti Entertainment Corporation. Visitors will be able to enjoy additional ventures from Onesti in the coming months, including the opening of the Arcadian Suites hotel and a pair of new restaurants.

Rock ‘N Za will be open this weekend for food and drinks, although the wood-fired pizza won’t be available until a ventilation system is installed for the oven that was imported from Italy. An Italian restaurant, Rock ‘N Ravioli, will open in the next four to six weeks.

It’s been a hectic race to the finish, but with just a few days until the doors reopen, Onesti knows his staff will be ready.

“We’re just as excited as our customers right now,” he said.

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