By Kevin Collison
The Quality Hill Playhouse has expanded into long-dormant space at 10th and Central streets, dramatically expanding the size of its lobby and adding a full-service bar for patrons.
Rick Truman, managing director, said the $600,000 expansion project called “The Q” opened the day after Thanksgiving in time for the downtown musical theater’s new holiday production “Christmas in Song.”
“People are really having a great time,” he said. “The old lobby was fine, but frankly, it was a hallway and not conducive to a large crowd and not easy to sell drinks.”
The Q project is a long time coming. It was originally envisioned as the last installment of a phased renovation plan that was launched in 2007, but had to be dropped when not enough money was raised.
A renovated and expanded 153-seat theater was completed in 2009.
Truman said the owner of the building housing the theater, a partnership between DST Realty and Financial Holding Corp. called Broadway Square Partners, raised the subject of expanding the lobby again last year as part of lease discussions.
“The lease was going up and they wanted us to do something with the corner,” he said.
As part of a 12-year extension of the lease through 2029, a deal was struck to renovate the 3,200 square-foot space. Centric Projects was the contractor, HOK was the architect.
The Q now has a lobby and bar area that can accommodate more than 50 people, and an event space with room for up to 40. It’s open 90 minutes before and after productions, and can finally allow the Playhouse to serve theater patrons comfortably.
Previously, the theater could only serve beer and wine, and it now can offer a full selection of cocktails. The plan also calls for light food offerings, but the original plan for a full restaurant had to be dropped.
Truman said the Playhouse hopes to launch the food service early next year.
“People come for a high-end performance experience and we want that experience to be extended throughout the operation,” he said.
“That’s why we’re taking our time to find the right food partner.”