A new future is on the horizon for the embattled Bethesda Theatre.
The Wisconsin Avenue landmark has been sold, and a blues and jazz supper club is planned for the space that could open its doors as soon as September.
The new owner, Rick Brown of the Bethesda-based B & B Realty Investments, deferred comment until the sale is formally announced at a press conference, which he said will be organized within a few weeks.
A website, however, details the new vision for the historic space.
The site describes the theater coming “back to life” as the “Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club,” which will feature live music and serve up “authentic New Orleans Creole cuisine.” The site also details catering services and cooking classes for Cajun and Creole food.
“With 300 seats for dinner, a beautiful new 40 ft. bar and lounge and 200 additional performance seats, you'll be able to see your favorite artists in an intimate and acoustically superb setting,” reads the site.
The site describes a “pre-opening” in the late summer and a grand opening in September.
The theater was sold last week to Bethesda Blues LLC for $2,895,000.
The Bethesda Theatre went dark in the summer of 2010 after struggling with more than $4 million in debt and being foreclosed upon by its lender, BB&T.
Bethesda community leaders have voiced their support for the space to be re-incarnated as an arts and entertainment venue, forming a group in 2010 called “Save the Bethesda Theatre,” spearheaded by the Greater Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce.
The theater first opened in 1938 as an art deco movie house. In 2007, it became an Off-Broadway performance hub following a $12 million renovation by the Bozutto Group. The non-profit that operated the theater, the Bethesda Cultural Alliance, partnered with Nederlander Worldwide Entertainment to produce several shows there.
But in 2008, the theater suffered a financial hit when a flood caused it to go dark temporarily as it began a run of "Smokey Joe's Café.” Following the dissolution of the partnership with Nederlander in 2009, the theater remained open as a rental venue until its 2010 foreclosure.
Within the past year, the bank marketed the property and received bids from several interested parties.
Patch will continue to bring you updates on the theater's future as more information becomes available.
What do you think of the new concept for the Bethesda Theatre? Tell us in the comments.