Ohio Theatre to host special dinner for homecoming

LIMA — The Ohio Theatre is trying to make an already special night even better for area students looking for dinner plans prior to this year’s homecoming festivities.

A Homecoming ’23 Buffet Dinner will run from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday night for all students who reserve spots.

“We cooked up this idea because we have a number of high school students that engage with us on a regular basis at open mics and in our productions,” Theatre co-owner Michael Bouson said. “And they all said the same thing: it’s very difficult for them to get a reservation for big groups and to go out to dinner before the dance.”

Bouson said that there can be prejudice toward kids because they are notoriously not the best tippers and do not drink alcohol, lowering the bills.

But the theatre was encouraged by the experience they had in the spring with promgoers to provide a safe, comfortable and fun environment for homecoming this year.

And they had a little help from a Lima Senior official, herself a parent.

“I was dining last year during prom and friends of ours brought their students in for it and had a wonderful time,” Kristin Lee, Director of Art at the district, said. “And there weren’t a lot of other students here for prom, but they were all dressed up and it was a very elegant atmosphere. They also realized it was a wonderful venue for photos and it was a very classy evening for them before they went to their dance.”

But Bouson was worried that the regular menu for the theatre might be a bit unapproachable for the kids.

“Our menu is international comfort food so there are a lot of items that they have never heard of and they might be afraid to try them,” he said. “So this menu is actually American Midwestern comfort foods which they will all be super familiar with and I’m actually enjoying researching them and looking forward to making them.”

And Lee thinks the students will get a kick out of the history of the venue, as well.

“It’s just kind of nice because a lot of the younger generations of Lima have not been in the Ohio Theatre, but when it was a club, maybe their parents were there back in the day,” she said. “But it’s very elegant and classy and it’s definitely an experience. And it’s a part of Lima history. Now there’s a wonderful opportunity for them to do that.”

Bouson said that he is looking forward to the students being able to have the best experience.

“We really enjoy the work that we do with young people at the high school and we’re very much looking forward to having all of that energy and exuberance in this space,” he said. “A lot of times, people don’t take them seriously or they’re dismissed as being too young to know this or that and we want to feel respected, lifted up and safe. That’s super important to us and I think they’ll feel all of those things. We’ll treat them as if they are the biggest tippers in the world.”

Reservations and more information on the event are available through the Ohio Theatre website.

Reach Jacob Espinosa at 567-242-0399.