Officials with Culinary Khancepts, an affiliate of Star Cinema Grill, are preparing to begin construction on a project to renovate the River Oaks Theater with the goal of completing work by the end of 2023.

The announcement was made in a May 17 news release, which said construction "will soon commence" on the historic theater, though a specific start date was not given.

The renovations will involve the installation of a new roof and a full kitchen, which will allow staff to provide guests an in-theater dining experience as well as wine and cocktail options, according to the release. Aesthetic choices in the design plans pay homage to the origins of the theater, officials said.

In a statement, River Oaks Theater President Omar Khan said the theater will screen art house films in addition to hosting live performances.

“We are honored to bring back one of Houston’s most iconic entertainment venues," Khan said. "The last year was spent working through design, city approvals, historical preservation [and] landlord coordination of building improvements, including a brand new roof and prepping the theater for a sprinkler system.”

River Oaks Theater was previously owned and operated by Landmark Theatres dating back to 1976. The theater itself has been running since 1939.

It closed in 2021 during the coronavirus pandemic after Landmark was unable to negotiate a lease agreement with the property's landlord at the time, Weingarten Realty. A campaign spearheaded by the nonprofit Friends of River Oaks Theater formed to raise awareness about the theater's significance and fundraise toward a solution to keep it open.

After a change in landlords to Kimco Realty, officials announced in February 2022 that Houston-based Star Cinema Grill would lease the space and keep the theater open. In the meantime, organizers with Friends of River Oaks Theater have been hosting rooftop screenings of various films on top of the River Oaks Shopping Center, overlooking the theater.

Renovations are expected to be complete by the end of 2023. River Oaks Theater Inc. will donate existing seats to Friends of River Oaks Theatre, which are available for presale on the group's website.