LIMA — The Ohio Theatre celebrated a little bit more than just a New Year’s Eve party on Saturday night.
“One thing that we learned when we did our dinner theatre production which sold out for the most part, compared to tonight, where we’ve had a lot of people in and out, is that people are looking for more dinner theatre,” said Ohio Theatre co-owner Michael Bouson. “Which is great, because that’s what we hedged our bet on when we bought the theatre.”
Patrons enjoyed the opportunity to come and go as they pleased from the historic theater, which has been under renovation recently.
“There are a lot of things to do tonight, and a lot of them are buy-ahead and ticket reservations,” said ArtSpace/Lima Director Sally Windle. “And that’s the beauty of Lima that there are so many options. But I wanted to make sure that I came to this one because we could come for dinner and meet friends, and it wasn’t mandatory to stay — but you can stay. So it’s just a nice casual event. Plus, I’ve been here a few times, and I know the food’s really good. And the atmosphere is always inviting.”
For what co-owner Joe Correll envisioned, the night went as expected.
“This is just a regular night for us,” he said. “We were going to have a giant thing, but we decided this would be better to let more people come and go and enjoy themselves. Anyone can come, and we have our regular menu and we have the bar open and we have food choices. A lot of our friends came, and we’ve even seen people who haven’t been here for 60 years.”
Windle said the menu and the atmosphere stood out to her.
”There’s that really good vibe that you’re in a place that’s got a lot of good vibrations of great people who have been here,” she said. “And then what we like to do is look around and see the actual restoration of what used to be.”
Bouson heard similar compliments.
“I think that there’s two things that make us very happy at the end of the day,” he said. “One is how much the people like our food. We have a lot of people who order something for dinner, and then order a second dish to go because they liked it so much because it’s very unusual for Lima.
“And the second thing is that everybody to a person says, ‘I immediately feel the first time I come here like I’ve been coming here for years.’ So I think we’ve done a good job of making people feel welcome, make people feel safe. We bend over backwards to keep people happy because I like that one place does that for me.”
Fans of the theatre can look forward to plenty more shows in 2023, starting with a bluegrass concert in January.
“Michael and I are brainstorming ideas for the next shows,” Correll said. “We’ll have auditions soon, and we’re planning a season for 2023.”
Bouson added, “At the end of February and early March, we’ll do our second dinner theatre show in the little space, and then in April we’ll move to the big space.”
More information about the Ohio Theatre can be found at ohiotheatrelima.com.
Reach Jacob Espinosa at 567-242-0399.