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Coming attraction: Historic River Oaks Theater reboot will begin soon

The Houston landmark shut down in 2021 when its lease was up. After getting a "full facelift," the theater is scheduled to reopen by the end of the year.

HOUSTON — The River Oaks Theater is a historic landmark that a lot of Houstonians hated to see go when it closed in 2021. 

The small theater built in 1939 was known for its art deco design and old-school marquee. 

Editor's note: The above video originally aired in March 2021

It was a favorite for movie buffs because it featured indie films and classics like "Rocky Horror Picture Show." Moviegoers also appreciated the upstairs bar and theater-style seating before both became popular attractions at larger theaters.

Empty seats during the pandemic and failed negotiations with its landlord forced the theater to close two years ago and many feared it would be demolished.

What's next for River Oaks Theater

Fast forward to 2023 and the theater is about to get a curtain call. 

Culinary Khancepts, an affiliate of Star Cinema Grill, just announced that construction will soon begin on a River Oaks Theater refresh. 

The locally-owned hospitality group took over the lease in 2022, and the "full facelift" is expected to be complete by the end of 2023.

"We felt as Houston’s only owned and operated cinema companies that it was our duty to save this masterpiece,"  Omar Khan, President and CEO of River Oaks Theatre, said in a news release.

Upgrades will include a new roof, a full kitchen and a "carefully curated" wine and cocktail menu. 

The types of movies featured in the past are also on the menu, but that's not all. 

"The River Oaks Theater will not only offer the best of art house films but will also bring live performances to the venue for theatre arts enthusiasts to enjoy," Khan said.

Culinary Khancepts vowed the finished product will pay homage to the origins of the theater.

Own a seat from the original River Oaks Theater

Culinary Khancepts donated the seats from the old theater to Friends of River Oaks Theatre, a grassroots group that tried to save it. 

You can own a piece of the theater's storied history by purchasing a seat for $50 each. 

Seats are available now for presale at www.friendsofriveroakstheatre.org.

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