CONNIE SWINNEY • STAFF WRITER
MARBLE FALLS — The curtain is falling again for an historic theater on Main Street, but its owners hope to find a group of investors to purchase the building or operate the venue for its third act.
The Uptown on Main, 218 Main St., recently closed after a nearly two-year run as a live entertainment and classic movie venue managed by the owners of R-Bar & Grill, located adjacent to the building.
Before that, the venue’s investment partners Russell Buster and Brooks Blake had operated the 280-seat theater as primarily a live music venue for about a decade.
“It’s time for another generation to come up with some good ideas and keep a local icon alive,” Buster said. “I’d love for somebody to come in and do an Alamo Drafthouse type of thing.
The Alamo Drafthouse, with theaters in Austin and several other cities, operates a unique movie/dinner model with patrons enjoying dinner and even beer while watching movies. The Alamo Drafthouse also sets itself apart from many other multiplexes with special programs featuring classic movies, various directors and unique events.
“I’d like to see somebody continue to record (live music shows) there,” he added about the Uptown. “It’s an acoustically unique facility.”
The venue opened in the 1942 and served primarily as an audience hall for traveling entertainment but eventually began showing movies.
“Every town in the old days had a movie theater,” Buster said. “That was the center of the entertainment and social interaction.”
At one point, a fire damaged the building, closing it for a period of time. It re-opened in the 1990s as the Marble Theater.
When a multiplex theater opened in town, the venue closed again to be re-opened in 2004 by Buster and Blake, who invested tens of thousands of dollars in upgrades, including renovations of the current Uptown sign uncovered beneath a previous one.
They even inherited an old gas-powered projector, weighing thousands of pounds.
During the peak of the venue’s success, Buster was booking 40-50 musicians and live shows a year, but the facility has not experienced a resurgence in popularity since then.
“Things are changing. It needs a larger audience. It could draw (visitors) statewide. I think there are several mechanisms. We used to have a nonprofit organizations, and that probably needs to be re-constituted,” Buster said. “I’d love to see the city (of Marble Falls) take it in. That would really be the way to work something like this for future generations to enjoy.”
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