Greenfinch Theater & Dive will open in Fox Park in spring 2023
Greenfinch Theater & Dive will open in the former Way Out Club space at 2525 S. Jefferson Ave. in St. Louis this spring, as reported by the RFT. The venue will host theater productions in addition to a range of other performing arts, while the adjoining dive bar will be open seven nights a week offering drinks at affordable prices.
Greenfinch Theater & Dive is fronted by Colin Healy and Bradley Rohlf, who purchased the building from The Way Out Club’s owners, Bob Putnam and Sherri Lucas. Healy and Bradley also run Fly North Theatricals, a theater company whose play The Gringo had a successful run at the St. Lou Fringe Festival in 2018. Fly North is a resident at the Kranzberg Arts Foundation, but Greenfinch is an entirely new and separate venture for Healy and Rohlf.
Healy said Greenfinch will be a place where both watching and presenting theater and other performing arts is accessible. That will benefit both consumers and creators. “We've been at this for five years, and this is the gap in the market that all of us actors and all of us theater people in town have always talked about, that there isn't an affordable space to do musical theater,” Healy said. “So when we got the opportunity to purchase this place, we saw the ability to disrupt and fill that gap in the market.”
The stage at Greenfinch will allow space for everything from musical theater and plays to stand-up comedy, burlesque and more. “We have all these unhoused theater companies and unhoused performance entities that are always hustling, always looking for a place to perform,” Healy said. “Our space is one that is just big enough and flexible enough to make that happen for what I believe will be a really wide scope of our theatrical population.”
The dive bar at Greenfinch will be open daily, providing the local theater community with a late-night hangout but also creating an approachable, welcoming place to stop in for a drink. Healy and Rohlf want the bar to be a lively entry point to the theater’s performances. “[The dive bar] provides access for people to interface with what I believe is St. Louis’ greatest kept secret, which is its bonkers theater scene,” Healy said.
The bar will offer something for everyone, from local craft brews and national beer brands to wine and cocktails, with non-alcoholic options also available. Affordability will be one priority, Healy said. “We're pretty dedicated to dive bar ethics,” he said. “The dive bar is a great equalizer. No matter most people's financial situation or ability or geography, almost everybody comes out to a dive bar.” Healy added that price doesn’t need to be a barrier to quality cocktails. “There are plenty of awesome drinks to be made out there that are not expensive, and I think many bars in the city have proven that, and we just want to be part of that culture,” he said.
Food at Greenfinch will be limited to a few very simple items. “We're going to do bar food,” Healy said. “Frozen pizzas, chips and peanuts, stuff like that. Certainly not a restaurant by any stretch of the imagination.” Instead, Healy hopes that customers will combine visits to Greenfinch with stops at other restaurants in the neighborhood. “Come to Greenfinch for a drink and a show, and if you're hungry, please patronize anyone else on the block,” he said. “That's what I think is great about our model is it provides such synergy on that block that you can drink at our place, you can go get food at another place and then we have a second thing that you come back for, we're doing theater, so come on back.”
Renovations over the coming months will see the stage replaced and columns removed to open up the theater space, among other changes. Healy said the bar will likely have a capacity of around 40 to 50. The theater should be able to seat around 70, but Healy said that could extend upward to around 110 depending on seating configuration and the nature of the show being performed.
Greenfinch will open in two phases. The bar will open in spring, likely in April. The theater will come later, opening sometime in the fall.
However, we will at least have a chance to get a peek at this work in progress on March 3, when Fly North Theatricals presents a production of the Tony-winning Peter and the Starcatcher. Tickets are free to the public, but the event is a fundraiser for Fly North’s Theatre For All initiative, which underwrites tickets to shows and scholarships for private voice, acting and dance lessons.