Waco Hippodrome revamps and renovates

Frances and Carly Bartlett watch the preiews for a showing of Christopher Robin, along with some of Christopher Robin's friends, in one of the Hippodrome's newly built theathers. Liesje Powers | Multimedia Editor

After beginning construction in May 2017, The Waco Hippodrome Theatre completed its remodeling in June 2018. The latest additions to the theater include three new screens, a bar, an expanded event space and a new restaurant.

The theater was constructed in 1913 and opened in February 1914. After several renovations by owners over the last century, the Hippodrome’s most recent renovations and expansions were prompted by current owners and brothers, Shane and Cody Turner.

Carina Yebra began her role as marketing director for the downtown Waco attraction a year and a half ago, just before the construction commenced. Plans for the renovations had been in the works for a long time, Yebra said.

“The owners I think always knew there would need to be an expansion at some point,” Yebra said. “We were limited in live performances by our movie contracts and vice versa. It was the best way for us to expand our offerings and calendar of events.”

The restaurant, rebranded during the revamp as “The Raleigh,” is open seven days a week and features chef-selected menu items each day. Previously situated on the second floor of the building, the restaurant is now on ground level with patio seating on Austin Avenue.

The assistant general manager, Wil Campos, says the revamped restaurant — which moved from the second floor to the ground level — is already a big hit among locals and tourists.

“We have burgers and sandwiches, as well as good southern comfort foods like chicken-fried steak, chicken-fried chicken, chicken tenders and catfish as well,” Campos said. “We are constantly busy, if not with waitlists.”

However, visitors of the Waco Hippodrome Theatre don’t have to sit in The Raleigh dining area to enjoy a meal. The three new theaters named after historical Waco theaters: the Imperial, Orpheum and Strand feature reclining seats with full service at the push of a button. They are also equipped with new projectors and audio systems, Yebra said.

On the roof of the building is “The Hightop,” a bar and patio area that hosts live music and themed nights. The Hightop menu features appetizers and beverages.

Apart from expanding the services and offerings of the Hippodrome, the new additions will offer the Waco community a full entertainment venue, Yebara said.

“The expansion solved a large number of our operational limits regarding the number of movies we can have, concert and comedy performance scheduling, events, etc.,” Yebra said. “We’re proud to be the most upscale theater in town and also such a downtown landmark. It’s great for the whole family.”

Movie times and service hours can be found online at the Waco Hippodrome Theatre’s official website.