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The New Ideal

The Ideal Theater & Bar, a family-owned establishment in Cedar Rapids, opened its doors in October 2022. Owned and operated by Kenyon Thorp, alongside her sister Kansas Thorp and father Jim Thorp, The Ideal was born from a vision to revitalize the local entertainment scene. Kenyon, who oversees daily operations and curates the event calendar, wanted to create a space where people could dress up, enjoy live music, and experience a unique night out. With a focus on diverse events, an intimate atmosphere, and affordable prices, The Ideal quickly became a hub for entertainment in the area.

A Legacy Reborn

The Ideal's history is deeply intertwined with Cedar Rapids' Bohemian District. Built in 1914 as one of six theaters in the area, The Ideal was unique for showcasing films and newsreels in the Czech language, catering to the local immigrant population. During World War I, it served as a vital source of information and connection to their homeland. The theater also hosted various performances, from jugglers to singers. However, by 1920, it closed its doors due to competition from larger English-language theaters.

The building then transitioned through various uses, eventually falling into disrepair. In 2017, the Jelinek family restored its structural integrity, including its magnificent 10,000 sq ft stamped tin ceiling. In 2022, the Thorp family completed the transformation, adding a 32-foot saloon-style bar and restoring The Ideal's original purpose as a theater.

The Ideal Today

Today, The Ideal Theater & Bar stands as the sole surviving theater in the Bohemian District and the area's only full-time live music and entertainment venue. It celebrates its heritage with a massive mural honoring Czech immigrants and prioritizes original, independent, and emerging artists across various genres. On nights without performances, The Ideal transforms into a speakeasy-style bar, offering craft cocktails, beer, wine, and fine spirits in a beautifully preserved space devoid of televisions, gambling machines, or jukeboxes.

The Thorp family's dedication to camaraderie, music, and dancing is evident in every aspect of The Ideal. With its rich history and commitment to fostering a vibrant entertainment scene, The Ideal Theater & Bar has become a beloved destination, recapturing and extending the Bohemian legacy for a new generation.

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