Kerasotes Drive-In

1720 S. Main Street,
Bloomington, IL 61701

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: GKC Theatres, Kerasotes Theatres

Previous Names: Phil-Kron Drive-In, Drive-In

Nearby Theaters

BLOOMINGTON DRIVE-IN Theatre; Bloomington, Illinois.

The Phil-Kron Drive-In opened on July 3, 1947 with “Two Guys From Milwaukee”. Its orignal name comes from its first owners, Kenneth Phillips and Phil Kron. The drive-in could accommodate 850 cars, and the large screen tower once contained a restaurant/grill.

In 1957 the theatre was renamed the Drive-In after it was acquired by Kerasotes Theatres. In 1979 it was renamed Kerasotes Drive-In. It was closed on September 13, 1984 when it was destroyed by an arson fire. What was left was later demolished and the site was considered by GKC Theatres for a new multiplex, but it never happened. A shopping center has since been built on the site.

Contributed by Bryan

Recent comments (view all 7 comments)

TommyK on August 30, 2013 at 8:49 pm

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.

Jay Harvey
Jay Harvey on August 31, 2013 at 12:18 pm

interesting story!

Drive-In 54
Drive-In 54 on March 20, 2014 at 1:31 pm

More history here That is not the original screen tower.

JonPutnam on April 20, 2015 at 2:10 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.”

DavidZornig on November 4, 2017 at 12:38 pm

Bumper stickers image added courtesy of Ed Young.

DavidZornig on July 30, 2020 at 7:25 pm

Additional history credit Christopher Myers:

“Phil-Kron Drive In Theater – Opened on July 3rd 1947 as the Phil-Kron, located at 1720 S Main Street. Renamed to Drive In Theater in 1957. Renamed again in 1979 to Kerasotes Drive-In Theatre. Closed after a fire destroyed it on September 13th 1984.”

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