Rosebud Cinema Drafthouse

6823 W. North Avenue,
Wauwatosa, WI 53213

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Times Cinema (Official)

Additional Info

Previously operated by: Marcus Theatres, Standard Theaters Management Corp.

Previous Names: Tosa Theatre

Phone Numbers: Box Office: 414.607.9446

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News About This Theater

Rosebud Cinema Drafthouse

Opened as the Tosa Theatre in 1931, and was previously owned by the Milwaukee based Standard Theaters Management Corp. and Milwaukee-based Marcus Theatres chain. The theatre was purchased by Jay Hollis in 1999, who has since shown first-run films at the Rosebud—which is in direct violation of the terms of the property’s sale.

Since that time, Marcus Corp has sued Hollis and recently offered a settlement that would have Hollis donate money to charity. Hollis has claimed that if he can’t show first-run films, the Rosebud will be forced to close.

The story was turning into something of a soap opera in the area with the determined Hollis defiant to the end and appearing in several newspapers and broadcast outlets to plead his case. The Rosebud Cinema Drafthouse was closed in March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In October 2023 it was announced that there were plans to reopen the theatre in January 2024.

Contributed by Ross Melnick

Recent comments (view all 16 comments)

TLSLOEWS on October 18, 2010 at 2:37 pm

Nice offical website for the Rosebud.

vclamp on February 21, 2012 at 10:27 pm

A sad day indeed. “Times and Rosebud theaters to permanently close” article links:,69667/

The land was purchased in 2007 at the height of the ‘real’ estate bubble, and now there is now way the bank will help them recover.

BigScreen_com on February 22, 2012 at 11:15 am

The Times and Rosebud aren’t completely down, the bank is talking about having former owner Joy Hollis run the theaters in receivership.

New life for Rosebud, Times theaters? –

Here are some photos of the Rosebud Cinema Drafthouse, including when it was still the Tosa Cinema:

Rosebud Cinema Drafthouse Photo Gallery –

LouRugani on February 22, 2012 at 3:32 pm

Former owner Jay Hollis has been hired to manage and keep the TIMES and ROSEBUD open while a search convenes for a new owner. AnchorBank of Madison had foreclosed on the mortgages, but the bank said today that the theaters will remain open. Hollis, a former painting contractor, created the Rosebud in 1999 after redoing the former Tosa Theater, and sold it in 2007. After owner David Glazer said the two theaters would close during the first week of March 2012, AnchorBank spokesman Timothy Carter said Hollis was hired by Siegel-Gallagher, the court-appointed receiver of the properties, to begin operating the theaters beginning March 1 throughout receivership while a new owner is found. Byron Butler, the senior vice president of marketing at AnchorBank, called Hollis “the original visionary” and said it was appropriate to continue operation with such a leader.

CSWalczak on April 10, 2012 at 2:12 pm

This theater and another in Milwaukee are now closed but may reopen after all of their current financial troubles are resolved: View link

Trolleyguy on August 23, 2014 at 6:59 am

Current website:

JerryEiff on March 14, 2019 at 3:34 am

Undoubtedly one of the areas most well run and comfortable neighborhood theaters. It offers wine, pizza and other upscale items and couch seating. Like sitting in your living room. No chance of closing or not running first run movies anymore.

LouRugani on November 2, 2023 at 12:21 pm

There’s a plan to reopen the ROSEBUD Theatre after more than three years.

The theatre near North Avenue and 68th Street closed in March 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Alderman Andrew Meindl, who oversees that district, told WISN 12 News the owner is targeting a Christmas return. Meindl said the owner plans reopening the ROSEBUD as a first-run theatre with newly-released pictures.

A community-owned theatre group is looking to turn the ROSEBUD into a community-led nonprofit. The owner told Ald. Meindl he will continue working with the group on a possible transfer of ownership in 2025.

Trolleyguy on December 3, 2023 at 7:45 pm

In-depth story here. The website says it will reopen in January 2024.

LouRugani on December 5, 2023 at 9:06 pm

As the Rosebud prepares to reopen in East Tosa after three years, we look at its past, present and future. By Bobby Tanzilo, Senior Editor/Writer ( Dec 05, 2023) … Wauwatosans and Milwaukee West Siders rejoice: the Rosebud Cinema Drafthouse, 6823 W. North Ave., is reopening. However, predictions as to when that’s happening have been premature, and based, it seems, on a false presumption. The theater has been closed since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020. While its sister Neighborhood Theater Group venues, The Avalon and The Times, have reopened, things have moved more slowly at the Rosebud, which opened in 1931 as the Tosa. “We’ve known for quite some time that the community wants to have the first-run theater back up and running and we want to see the building back up and running, too,” says David Snieg, who is the experience officer for Neighborhood Theater Group. “For us it was a matter of trying to bounce back from Covid and we needed to make sure that we had things solidified at the Avalon; so dealing with that and then having The Times up and running, and just ensuring that when we do open the doors here, that we are functionally able to open the doors.” Staff has been inside the Rosebud testing the equipment, cleaning up and getting the theater ready to reopen, and the carpets are set to be cleaned this week. But another big factor is the theater’s various licenses (occupancy, food, liquor, etc.) from the City of Wauwatosa, Snieg says. “It is just a matter of doubling back and seeing where our licensing is at,” he says. “We’ve submitted a lot of stuff to government officials for licensing and we’re hoping to hear within the next 48 to 72 hours. Tosa has been phenomenal to work with. “We haven’t had to do a ton of repairs or anything on the building itself. Just regular stuff that happens along the way. We’ve got a lot of great long-time staff members that are with us and ready to go at the Rosebud.” So, the opening date? “Opening for us depends on licensing,” Snieg says, adding that he figures that staff could have the venue ready to open within about a week of getting an official OK. As for the "opening date” you may have read about in January, Snieg says there is no such date. What some have reported as an expected opening date is nothing more than a placeholder that exists for the company’s website. “We went to a new website provider that has all of our sites aggregated together,” Snieg says. “So if you go to, you can see all of our venues and you just select in your venue to see what’s happening from there. But when we launched it in early October, they had the Rosebud listed with a date of Oct. 12 or something.” But that was just a random date the web designer used, based on nothing official. “I was like ‘no, no, we’re not there!’ So we just have (moved) the date out there to Jan. 9 as a placeholder.” Snieg says the theater could open Jan. 9, but it could open sooner, or later. Also still unknown is what the first movie to screen will be. “We have not officially booked anything yet,” Snieg says. “We do know Wonka’s coming up Dec. 15, ‘Aquaman 2’ is coming up Dec. 22. Past that we’ve got some January release dates that are out there, too. We tend to work in two-week increments or so. We’ve just started looking at things since we submitted for licensing, What we do know is that it will be a first-run theater.” When it does re-open, the Rosebud will bring back a theater that’s long been a part of Tosa life. A little history: On Jan. 22, 1931, Ross Baldwin paid $22.62 to the City of Wauwatosa for a permit application to build a 600-seat theater and store building of steel and concrete block on the south side of what was then called East North Avenue, between Sixth and Seventh Avenues, in the business district of the Inglewood Subdivision. The then-36-year-old Baldwin, was living on 24th and Michigan at the time with his wife Dorothy and their two children, 8-year-old Franklin and 5-year-old Jean Mary. Ross Jackson Baldwin, who was born in Cobden, Illinois in 1896, had moved to Milwaukee by the time he registered for the draft in 1917. After serving in the military during World War I in 1919, Jackson returned to Milwaukee by Oct. 9, 1920, which is when he married Dorothy Toepfer, and he’d been in the film business for a while. In 1917, he was working as a booker at Universal Film Inc. in an office in the Toy Theater Building Downtown on North 2nd Street. In the 1930, Baldwin was working for a film exchange as a “commercial traveler,” which was a salesman. His $50,000 theater building – 45.5 feet wide by 113 feet long – was designed by architect Paul Bennett and to be constructed by Byrnes Brothers. Why Baldwin tapped Bennett, who doesn’t appear to have specialized in theaters, is unknown. In fact, not a ton has been said about the architect, who seems to have mostly done residential and some small commercial (aka storefronts) work, and mostly on the West Side and nearby suburbs. Bennett was born in Fulton, Kentucky in 1887 and one city report suggests that he, “arrived in Milwaukee as a trained architect and worked at the George W. Adams Building Company as one of his first jobs in the city. Bennett likely worked as a protégé to Walter F. Neumann, the resident architect and vice president.” In 1917, Bennett, however, was a building superintendent at the Public Service Building on Michigan Street. The following year, he married Cora C. Spetz. That city report adds that, “by 1923 records indicate that Bennett was working as an architect for the Robert L. Reisinger & Company, which primarily dealt with general contracting and concrete construction. In 1925 Bennett opened his own architectural company; however, the Depression took a toll on his workload. During the early 1930s Bennett briefly worked as an inspector before returning to his architectural practice.” Both the 1930 and ‘40 censuses record Bennett as an architect. The 1950 census found Bennett and his wife living in Vancouver, Washington, however, where he was indeed working as a building inspector. The city report suggests he left for the Pacific Northwest potentially as early as 1941. Bennett, by then retired, died in Vancouver of a heart attack in 1961. Anyway, 30 years earlier on the growing east side of Wauwatosa, Bennett’s building was a rather small theater, with Art Deco elements. Work began on the theater on Feb. 13, 1931, but by April, there was controversy. One neighbor, Earl R Sovereign, who owned property on 69th Street, adjacent to the back of the theater site, sought an injunction against Baldwin and his builders to stop construction of the building. “Sovereign said that the theater would destroy the neighborhood quality of the subdivision,” wrote the Journal at the time. “Testimony at the hearing was that Inglewood subdivision was platted as an exclusive residential district with building restrictions. However, the Wauwatosa zoning laws designate all of E. North Ave. as a business district. Mr. Baldwin obtained permission to build the theater from the town government.” Judge Daniel W. Sullivan of circuit court heard three days of testimony on the matter and was to determine, “whether the Wauwatosa zoning laws of the deed restrictions of the subdivision are to be given precedence.” Though there was no follow-up that I could find, work resumed, suggesting Sullivan sided with Wauwatosa, and by August, further contracts had been awarded for the construction. On Oct. 22, 1931, the Tosa Theater opened to the public. “The projection machines, two huge affairs, are of the latest model and will provide the best synchronization of action with sound,” The Wauwatosa News reported. Soon after, Baldwin and his family moved to a house a couple blocks from the theater, on 69th and Wright Streets, and according to “Silver Screens” by Larry Widen and Judi Anderson, the whole family was involved in running the Tosa. “Baldwin was manager and projectionist until the mid-1930s, when the union picketed to have him hire a union projectionist,” the authors wrote. “His wife Dorothy sold tickets and son Franklin was the usher. His daughter Jean Mary took tickets at the door. “Because of its indie status it could not get first-run pictures, so Baldwins used other ways to get attention: Tuesday bingo, giveaways (pots and pans, vases, candy bars, dishware sets, cosmetics) and Baldwin shot 16mm footage of Tosa residents and events and showed them at the theater and those became very popular.” In 1938, the theater suffered a fire when a film ignited in the projection room – as was not terribly uncommon – forcing the evacuation of 400 patrons. The audience, “mostly children,” wrote the Journal, “was safely escorted out of the Tosa Sunday afternoon. Ross Baldwin, theater manager, his wife and two ushers quietly took charge of clearing the theater. Under their direction, the children and the few adults marched out in orderly fashion. “Once on the street, the crowd was put in charge of police. Tickets were distributed and most of the audience returned two hours later when the show was resumed. The fire caused considerable smoke to billow into the theater. It was extinguished when the projection machine automatically sealed itself after the blaze started. The damage was about $400.” The following year, Baldwin went toe-to-toe with the projectionists union, working up in the booth himself when a strike was called, as Widen and Anderson noted. “The owner of the Tosa Theater Saturday planned to operate his own projection machines because of the AFL Motion Picture Projectionists’ Union, Local 164, called a strike at his place Friday,” reported the Journal that October. “Oscar E. Olson, union business manager, said that the picketing of the theater was started after Ross Baldwin, the owner, had failed to meet the terms of a union contract which expires Oct. 31, “Olson said that Baldwin was permitted to cut wages about 20 percent below the contract price for 13 weeks during the summer ‘because business was bad,’ but that Baldwin had failed to resume full wages at the end of September. Baldwin said that the income of the theater did not warrant the $1.71 an hour or $70 average weekly pay demanded by the union. Baldwin said he was willing to pay $1.25 an hour with an average salary of $55 and the rest in promissory notes.” The two sides came to an agreement within a couple weeks, but Baldwin might have found running a theater more than he and his small family could manage because soon after they were gone. At least one source says that at some point the theater fell under the Standard Theaters Management Corp., which owned a number of area theaters, including the Riverside and the Times, though no specifics of that relationship have turned up. Equally confusing is Marcus Theaters’ initial relationship with the place. Some say Baldwin sold the theater to Ripon-based theater man Ben Marcus in 1940 and Marcus Corp. records say 1941 is when it took over the Tosa and the Times, making those the first Marcus Theaters in the Milwaukee area. However, even those company records conflict as they show that Marcus leased the theater from Jan. 1, 1946 until Dec. 31, 1950, then extended the lease for 25 years to Dec. 31, 1975 via a series of five-year options. This would suggest that Marcus didn’t buy the theater until, perhaps, 1975-6, maybe from Standard? (If you have documents that solve this puzzle, send them along!) The fact that Baldwin was moving further afield from the theater, to a new house he was building on 84th Street, just south of Center, in 1941 does suggest that 1940-1 indeed was when he had ceded control of the Tosa. Later, from a West Bend address, Baldwin sold two lots adjacent to the 84th Street house and by 1950, he and Dorothy had moved to Pinellas County, Florida, where Baldwin died in August 1977. That management change also seems likely to have occured sometime in 1940, based on the much ballyhooed arrival of a new seating configuration at the theater that December. “Show business relies on innovations for its continued success,” wrote Sentinel columnist Buck Herzog. “We’ve been told recently that show business is suffering from another box office ailment and that it needs a new shot in the arm. “Well, maybe out at the Tosa Theater, they’ve found the solution. It is a seating arrangement – a two seater affair called a ‘love seat.’ It is devoid of arm rests between was would ordinarily be two regular seats. Thus, a boy and girl may bill and coo in parlor style and still enjoy the cinema antics of their favorite hero and heroine.” In a Dec. 16 Journal follow-up, Nate Cohan is named as the manager of the Tosa, and the thrill of the love seat had not waned in the week since Herzog’s piece appeared. The Journal’s coverage is so antiquated to 21st century ears that it’s worth quoting at length here: “The love seats were installed in the theater a month ago as a novelty and they are occupied whenever the theater is doing business and not always in the interests of wooing. Most of the time the 28 love seats scattered through the theater are occupied by young men and women who hold hands and whisper sweet nonsense into each other’s ears and act generally as if they were ready to swoon with devotion. But some of Wauwatosa’s fat men – this essay will not mention the names of any – have begun to usurp the love seats in the interest of their own comfort. The suburb’s broad beamed gentlemen find difficulty in squeezing themselves into an ordinary seat, but these love seats accommodate bulk nicely. The theater management has shrewdly taken the position that the love seats are not reserved for romance – bulk is also given its place in the sun, or love seat. First come, first served is the theater motto. Love seat addicts – the romancers, that is – head for the double barrelers with the unerring progress of homing pigeons. They sweep past the ushers, needing neither directions nor the finger of light from a flashlight. The upstairs retail space that was home to a music store and school, as well as other businesses. Newcomers who are trying out a love seat for the first time ask the usher for help in finding one. Usually it is the young man who asks hopefully, ‘Is there a love seat vacant?’ Often the young lady giggles. Ushers have grown callous to such youthful embarrassment. Theater Manager Nate Cohan thinks that his experiment with the love seats is a success. ‘The love seat is here to stay,’ he says.” A couple days later, the Sentinel chimed in again to report that the Tosa was then thinking of instituting an upcharge for the love seats. Also around the time, there was a music store and school located in the small office space upstairs (currently used as the Rosebud office). In the ‘50s, the space was home to Arkay Film Service. Marcus remodeled the theater in 1958 and the seating capacity dropped to 585. Another remodel followed exactly 20 years later and this one featured a redecorated lobby, a new wider screen, and Soundfold curtains. After this work, capacity fell to 565 seats. At some point, the exterior of the theater was also redone in a mod style, though that facade was later removed. In 1986, the Tosa began to show first-run films, and in 1991 it was again rededicated after another remodeling. But just five years later, Marcus’s B&G Realty Co. arm sold the then-554-seat theater to James Farr. “He paid what B & G has said was well below the theater’s value in exchange for accepting a deed restriction barring him from showing first-run films within 90 days of their national release,” wrote the Journal Sentinel. But Farr couldn’t make a go of it. The theater was sold in 1999 to Jay Hollis, who said he’d only learned of the deed restriction just before he closed on the deal. Despite being reminded of it by B&G soon after, Hollis decided to show “State and Main” not long after its release date in 2000 and in 2001 the two ended up embroiled in a legal mess. It was Hollis who converted the theater’s traditional seating to the more sofa-focused living room vibe it has today, with a capacity of just under 160. One can’t help but think all those fans of the 1940 love seats would approve. He also added a kitchen, added beer, expanded the menu and updated the bathrooms, and renamed it the Rosebud Cinema Drafthouse. Around 2007, Hollis had sold to Widen and David Glazer, who struggled against a bad economy and a shrinking movie theater industry, and in 2012 Anchor Bank took over the Rosebud and The Times, which was also owned by the duo. “These last couple of years have been tough economic times, and we’ve just been fighting valiantly, David (Glazer) in particular,” Widen told OnMilwaukee at the time. “We really tried our best. … The bank has chosen not to work with us anymore, and we’ve been asked to leave.” Interestingly, in an effort to keep the theaters open longer, the bank continued to operate them, hiring Hollis as manager. The theater is not terribly ornate inside, although you can see some little details that survive, including decorative brackets in the doorways flanking the screen. Now covered up from the front, but visible from the small space behind the screen – there is no backstage area with dressing rooms – you can spy a set of three inset arches forming a simple but attractive proscenium, which may or may not have had ornamentation. While there is no balcony in the theater, there is an “owner’s box” with its own rest room, accessed through the office and projection booth. Lee Barczak – who, along with his wife Jane Schilz, also owns The Times Cinema and Bay View’s Avalon Theater – bought the property via a sheriff’s deed in 2012, according to City of Wauwatosa records, and operated it until the pandemic shut everything down and it has not yet reopened, due, Barczak has said, to staffing issues. In late summer, Tosa resident Dave Celata kicked off a conversation about the future of the theater, the closure of which has been the topic of much discussion in the neighborhood. Suggesting that neighbors come together to talk about possibilities for the building, including everything from a partnership with NTG to purchasing the theater, were discussed at a packed house meeting in early September. In October, Celata said in an early November update, “we started organizing five different workgroups (programming, operations, legal, communications and fundraising). Each of these workgroups has met at least once with a number of people already leaning in and getting to work. Moreover, we now have a Coordinating Group, which includes two members of each of the five workgroups, to help us connect some dots and get a business plan for a nonprofit on paper. The Coordinating Group will be meeting for the first time next week. This will help provide each of the workgroups with further clarity on how they can align to a bigger vision.” In the same update, Celata noted the planned reopening of the Rosebud, writing, “(Barczak) was able to find the right staffing and shift some things across his three theaters to make a go of it in the near term.” But, he added, “There most likely will need to be a different long-term solution. (Barczak) continues to be receptive to the idea of a community group eventually taking over the theater to ensure it stays open for the long haul. When the Coordinating Group meets next week, this will be the top agenda item. That group will discuss the matter and help set a direction for where we go from here.” Snieg says that Neighborhood Theater Group is eager to be a fixture in the community again and will always listen to pitches from anyone who can help in that area. “Neighborhood Theater Group is built on the idea of ‘your neighborhood, your movies’,” he says. “When Jane and Lee initially bought the theaters, it was because they wanted them to be staples of their community. Anybody that has ideas, as long as we’re not damaging really expensive equipment and stuff like that and we can make it viable, we always approach everything with an open mind. When you’re a first-run theater, you just have to make sure that you’re taking care of your obligations with regard to your contractual rules.” But, at the same time, he adds, NTG has no plans to sell the theater. In fact, it has no plans beyond reopening as a first-run theater as soon as possible. "Our intention is to own and operate the theater,” Snieg says. “If we commit to opening it, we’re going to open it, own it, operate it. We’ve always known in the back of our minds, even before that meeting with Dave and community members, that we want to get the building back open. If we can get it open and make the Tosa community proud of having the Rosebud doors being open, and the community embraces it … as we know, it’s general economics. As long as people are consuming it, it makes it that much easier to keep the lights on and keep the doors open.”

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