Historic Medina theater has new life

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 6 May 2013 at 12:00 am

Cardone family reopens Main Street site for food and entertainment

Photos by Tom Rivers – Renee Schuner, events coordinator for Medina Theatre, stands inside the remodeled theater that is used for music, live entertainment, parties and other events.

The Cardone family has reopened the Medina Theatre at 607 Main St.

MEDINA – After 30 years of mostly sitting underutilized on Main Street, the Medina Theatre has a new life as an entertainment venue for bands, a party house for weddings, and restaurant for individuals and groups.

The Cardone family remodeled the historic theater site and reopened it late last year. The building has been equipped with state-of-the-art audio, video and lighting equipment. Live entertainment is booked most weekends, including a Murder Mystery this Saturday. Local and regional bands also perform inside the former theater that seats 400 people.

“We have the capability to book any kind of event you want,” said Renee Schuner, the events coordinator. “I love this venue. It has so much potential for the community.”

Medina Theatre has a busy schedule with entertainment lined up Fridays and Saturdays, including a Murder Mystery this Saturday.

Joe Cardone said his family wants a new generation to experience the Medina Theatre. The site was restored and expanded by Warner Brothers in 1938, making it a premiere movie theater in Western New York that drew regular customers from outside the county. Warner Brothers was hit with an anti-trust suit in mid-1940s and had to sell its theaters.

The Medina site changed hands many times. Vincent Cardone bought it in 1975 and remains the owner. The site was used as a movie theater until that year, when it last showed “Jaws.” Movie theaters received a tiny portion of the ticket sales and had to rely on concessions. That wasn’t enough to survive for many small-town theaters, including the theater in Medina, Joe Cardone said.

Cardone is optimistic about Medina, and sees the upgraded building as part of the community’s renaissance.

“We didn’t want this to be an eyesore or a nonproductive building,” he said about site at 607 Main St. “There’s a whole generation of kids that haven’t been in here. We have a lot of things planned to draw people here.”

The theater received an extensive upgrade in 1938 when it was acquired by Warner Brothers. Many of those improvements are still evident, including movie reels and old projectors. This plaque near the front entrance remains.

The main theater room has space for large parties or for bands and live entertainment. The Cardones have also serve lunch from Mondays through Fridays in the Diana Lounge, named for the daughter of former theater owner Nikitas Dipson.

Medina Theatre serves dinners from Thursdays through Saturdays.

Schuner returned to Medina last year after working as an event planner in Sacramento, Calif. She said Medina is becoming a destination.

“There has been a resurgence in Medina,” she said. “It’s a darling town. People come from Buffalo and Rochester and can’t believe what a gem is here.”