Waco Hippodrome closes restaurants, puts up space for rental

The Waco Hippodrome Inc. announced Monday will retain the historic theatre, making the venue available for rental while closing the The Raleigh Diner, The Hightop Bar and the suspension of dine-in services and ticket services for movies. Brittney Matthews | Photo Editor

By Emily Cousins | Staff Writer

The Waco Hippodrome closed The Raleigh Diner, The Hightop Bar and suspended dine-in services and ticket services for movies on Tuesday.

In addition, the theaters that were recently added facing Eighth Street will become available real estate.

“The Waco Hippodrome Inc. will retain the historic theatre, making the venue available for rental,” a press release stated.

Turner Behringer Property Management will be taking over future operations of the Hippodrome.

“Bringing the historic Hippodrome back to life was a labor of love for us, and she’s in good shape today,” Shane Turner one of the owners of the Hippodrome, said in the press release. “The enhancements to the property, the addition of the dining facilities, and expansion along 8th Street will afford a tremendous opportunity for someone with the passion and drive to make their own mark in downtown Waco.”

Baylor alumna Carly Orr said she was very upset to hear The Raleigh Diner and The Hightop Bar were closing.

“So many fond memories of singing, nights out and morning brunch with friends were made there,” Orr said. “I didn’t realize until I found out it was closing how much time was actually spent there.”

Orr said she is glad the space will remain open for rental.

“I performed my first-ever Baylor scenes program and full opera with the Baylor Opera Theater there,” Orr said. “It was such an important moment for me and I have thought about that experience every time I’ve walked or driven by.”

Although these closures were finalized earlier this week, the Hippodrome will carry out any previously booked and ticketed events as originally planned.

According to the Hippodrome’s website, the theater has been a key element of Waco’s entertainment life since 1914. Originally run as a vaudeville theater and then converted to a movie house, the place holds much of Waco’s history within its walls. More recently, the theater has also held live music and comedy performances.

Turner said their goal was to figure out the best way to serve their customers. Their goal is for the Waco community to continue to see the Hippodrome as a core piece of the city’s vibrant entertainment culture.

“We’re working out details now on how to best meet the needs of our customers,” Turner said in the press release. “This is still a premier venue for events and we want people to continue to think of the Hippodrome as a valuable community resource.”