Renovation work inside the newly-renamed McFiler Chehalis Theater has officially begun.
While Tim Filer, who purchased the theater with his business partners back in late 2020, has been doing necessary demolition work inside the historic building for months while waiting for construction permits to go through a lengthy review process, the permits have all been approved and a local contractor, Affordable Building and Maintenance Inc., is now a couple of weeks into bringing Filer’s vision of a fine dining establishment in Chehalis to life.
“As the contractor, we’re just trying to come in and help them and get things done,” Affordable Building owner Mike DeMeo said.
The Chehalis-based construction company takes on a wide variety of jobs of all sizes. Ongoing high demand for contractors to take on building projects has kept Affordable Building’s crew busy, DeMeo said.
But this particular project piqued their interest enough for them to take it on.
“We like designing unique projects like this,” DeMeo said.
Workers have already built a platform in the lower seating section that will be used for fine dining and have plans to replace seating between the platform and the stage.
The front counter and the kitchen behind it will both be completely redone and a walk-in cooler will be added; the existing bathrooms will be redone and an ADA-compliant bathroom will be added on the ground floor.
The upstairs bar, dining platform and seating area will all be redone so people ages 21 and over can eat and watch shows from above, and the front marquee will be modified to accommodate brighter LED lights.
And for the finishing touch, the whole interior will be refloored and repainted — even the ceiling housing the memorable colorful renderings of popular cartoon characters.
“We had a lot of public outreach on it,” said Filer, adding that many were against painting over the illustrations of Pete’s Dragon, Peter Pan, Captain Hook, Pink Panther and others scattered across the ceiling.
“They’re just not going to fit with the motif we’re going with,” he said.
But the artwork will be preserved within the theater.
Filer brought in a local photographer to capture each illustration, and when renovations are complete, he plans to have the photographs framed and displayed throughout the theater for patrons to view.
Filer additionally plans to display some of the still-functioning antique projection equipment found upstairs in the projection room.
Filer is tentatively planning to open the theater to the public in October or November of this year, but that will likely be a soft opening, with some sections of the theater still under construction.
He anticipates a grand opening will be pushed out until December 2021 or January 2022.
“We’re doing everything we can to update it for its facelift” said Filer, adding that the renovations are intended to prepare the theater for the next 50 years of use.