The Arcada Theatre was a regular entertainment hangout for Caroline Johnson, who grew up in St. Charles.
She credits Ron Onesti for ensuring that the Arcada Theatre, located at 105 E. Main St. in the heart of downtown St. Charles, will continue to provide entertainment now and into the future.
“He single-handedly brought it back to its natural state,” said Johnson, who nominated Onesti for the Everyday Hero honor. “He has a lot of the bands we grew up with. It is amazing to sit and listen to music that takes you back to a place when life seemed so easy.”
Onesti is president and founder of Onesti Entertainment Corp., which took over management of the Arcada Theatre in 2005.
“I saw a great potential here,” Onesti said.”My background is producing live shows, concerts and festivals all over the country. I’ve had access to some of the biggest names in show business for more than 25 years. So, it was always my dream to have a place of my own to showcase these great entertainers.”
Onesti said he probably spent seven years searching for the right venue before coming across the Arcada Theatre, which first opened in 1926 and attracted such performers as George Burns and Gracie Allen.
“My dream was for it to be a place where it was full to capacity of people who just love music, and to be responsible for that happiness and that joy,” Onesti said. “Although I’m happy to say that it has hit the heights that I dreamed of, I never really understood just how much of an effect it would have on so many people and this town.”
Over the years, Onesti has partnered with different community organizations. For example, The Paul Ruby Foundation for Parkinson’s Research in 2013 staged its annual concert fundraiser at the Arcada Theatre. And the Arcada recently hosted the Rhythm on the River benefit for the Rotary Club of St. Charles and River Corridor Foundation of St. Charles.
Onesti said he is happy to assist.
“I’ve always been one to want to help, not only help the nonprofit organizations, but also local businesses,” Onesti said. “I’m all about helping local businesses in any way I can. The community is really the foundation of any business.”
Local bands also have had the opportunity to perform on stage at the Arcada. Onesti said he wants to give local bands opportunities.
“It’s hard for local bands to get some kind of break,” he said. “In some cases, they are opening for their heroes. We had a band called Cadillac Casanovas, which play rockabilly and 1950s’ music, open for Ricky Nelson’s sons. And they went crazy, because they are big Ricky Nelson fans.”
While Onesti might own the Arcada Theatre, he said it really belongs to the community.
“I’m very fortunate to have a business that is loved by so many people,” Onesti said. “This building has been part of generations of families, and I respect that. It may belong to me on paper, but my goal is for this place to belong to the community, for people to feel it is their home.”
The Onesti lowdown
Who he is: Ron Onesti, president and founder of Onesti Entertainment Corp.
Town of residence: Wood Dale
Family: Wife, Elena, daughter, Giuliana, 9, puppy, Cappucino
Fun fact: Award-winning chef.