Bloomington Drive-In

1720 S. Main Street,
Bloomington, IL 61701

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DavidZornig
DavidZornig on November 4, 2017 at 7:38 pm

Bumper stickers image added courtesy of Ed Young.

JonPutnam
JonPutnam on April 20, 2015 at 10:10 pm

The Phil-Kron Drive-In Theater opened on July 3, 1947, with the comedy “Two Guys from Milwaukee.” The theater was co-owned by Ken Phillips and Peter Karonis, and its name was a fusion of their surnames. There was capacity for 800 cars and seating for 400 walk-in patrons.

Opening in conjunction with the drive-in was the Phil-Kron Country Kitchen, an adjoining restaurant that was positioned directly behind the screen.

In 1958, the Kerasotes chain purchased the drive-in and restaurant and changed the theater’s name to the generic “Drive-In Theater,” while the restaurant was re-christened the “Sinorak” (“Karonis” spelled backward).

Both businesses suffered two major fires. The first occurred in 1963 and destroyed both the restaurant and the theater’s screen; however, they were restored and reopened later that same year.

The restaurant closed in 1980 and remained vacant while the drive-in continued to operate. In September 1984, just six days after closing for the season, the theater was damaged again when the abandoned restaurant building caught fire. (Three local youths were eventually charged with arson). The owners made some initial attempts at refurbishing the property, but ultimately decided not to reopen the theater. Meanwhile, the screen remained standing until 1988, when it was demolished by a ferocious thunderstorm that swept through the area.

The final double-feature to play at the theater in 1984 was “Tightrope” / “Sudden Impact.”

Drive-In 54
Drive-In 54 on March 20, 2014 at 8:31 pm

More history here That is not the original screen tower.

Jay Harvey
Jay Harvey on August 31, 2013 at 8:18 pm

interesting story!

TommyK
TommyK on August 31, 2013 at 4:49 am

I believe the screen was held up by round metal legs. The restaurant was built around the structure. Therefore the round legs were part and parcel of the restaurant’s decor. The restaurant was a separate business from the theater. One of the locals told me that the restaurant was foreclosed upon by its creditors. One day, during lunch, the creditors told the patrons to leave whether they were done dining or not. They shuffled the people out the door and locked her up. I think the theater continued to operate some time after the restaurant was closed, but not for very long.