Rialto Theatre to reopen under new ownership

After the Rialto Theatre’s temporary shutdown, this Raleigh landmark is slatted to reopen this summer with exciting entertainment opportunities.

Hayes Permar in front of a marque reading "Thank you Bill."

Bill is coaching Hayes on how to maintain the theater.

Photo by RALtoday

The historic Rialto Theatre has been a pillar of the Five Points neighborhood since 1942, and now the theater will make its grand return under new ownership.

Following its 80th birthday, long-time owner Bill Peebles’ temporary closed the theater last August due to his retirement and market conditions. Fast forward to Friday, May 5: an investment group purchased the assets of the Raleigh landmark with hopes of reopening this summer.

The group, headed by Hayes Permar, is made up of community members with strong Raleigh ties. Hayes grew up in the City of Oaks watching films on the Rialto’s big screen.

Though the theater only has one screen, it holds one of the largest auditoriums in Raleigh, seating 432 people under the same two massive dome lights that have illuminated the theater since World War II.

The Rialto's huge dom

The iconic dome lights are here to stay.

Photo by RALtoday

Hayes plans to welcome back live music to the venue, like it once did decades ago, and new entertainment options like comedy shows. “Live music is probably the most prominent thing that we’ll be adding,” Hayes told RALtoday.

Artists like Tori Amos, Melissa Etheridge, and Devo have all performed at the venue.

“We’d love to find the 2023 version of Tori Amos, Fishbone, or whoever it is,” Hayes said. “And there’s a lot of staple local bands who played here in the 90s, who still sell out shows, that we’d love to have come perform as well.”

He also wants to help create special family memories with events circulating around classic holiday films. “It’ll [the Rialto] be bursting at the seams with inflatables, fake snow, a band playing holiday tunes out front, and carolers in costume,” Hayes said.

But don’t worry, film will still be a central theme for the cinema. “You have to have movies. It’s about finding the right balance,” Hayes told RALtoday. “I will be inviting the Rocky Horror crew to come back here and would be honored if they’d join me because I can’t imagine a reality without them.”

With the ABC permit approved on Monday, May 8, Hayes said that there should be activity in the theater this summer.

We can already smell the popcorn.

More from RALtoday