New owners, same La Crosse charm: Rivoli Theatre reopens

LA CROSSE (WKBT) — After a month being closed for renovations, the Rivoli Theatre in downtown La Crosse is open for business. This time, it’s a family affair.

New owner Jonathan Gelatt says lines were nearly out the door Tuesday, and he was expecting a great turnout for the next couple of nights.

Gelatt sees his theater as a gathering place to bridge generations.

“People from all walks of life like movies,” Gelatt said.

Gelatt, along with his siblings Clara and Phillip, bought the building this year.

“My siblings, I mean, were my favorite people to watch movies with growing up,” said Gelatt, who grew up in La Crosse and said he always has had his eye on the downtown staple.

“I always sort of said, if this place was ever in danger or up for sale, I would really want to try and invest in it or buy the business outright to save it and keep it going, because it’s my favorite place in La Crosse,” Gelatt said.

The seats in the Rivoli’s main theater are modern, but the theater is 102 years old.

That’s around how long the Gelatt family has been in La Crosse. And like the Gelatt family, the Rivoli is a La Crosse tradition.

Since buying the theater, Gelatt has heard plenty of stories.

“It’s been great to hear stories of every single generation. I hear little kids who like it … there’s lots of older people in town who have sent me pictures of relatives who used to work here,” Gelatt said.

He hopes to bridge generation gaps by playing stories new and old.

“The overall plan is to keep running new movies — we’ll probably run one newer movie at a time, and then get into playing older films, kind of reintroducing classics to people and presenting movies in the way they were originally intended,” Gelatt said.

Gelatt is hoping to do a historic renovation to the theater, especially the main theater area.

He is already working with some people locally to preserve its original style.

The party room is closed for renovations this summer, and he also hopes to get more screens up and running some time in the future.

In the entryway, he also hopes to decorate with copies of historical newspaper ads, photos of the Rivoli and other pieces of history.

Connecting the old with the new.

The Rivoli is showing “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “Back to the Future” Wednesday and Thursday, with showtimes at 5:30 and 7 p.m.

The theater is still updating its schedule for future showings. For exact dates and times, you can check out the Rivoli  website.

And Packers fans — don’t worry. Gelatt still plans to show games on the big screen.

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