CLEARWATER — When the renovated Capitol Theatre reopened for business last December, concertgoers were wowed by its acoustics, its lineup of shows, its state-of-the-art sound system, its wraparound exterior balcony and the cool bars in its lobby and mezzanine.
But one promised piece was missing on opening night — Frenchy's Rooftop Terrace, a bar on the theater's roof.
"We just wanted to get the building ready so the performances could begin. The construction was completed so quickly, we had no time to plan beyond that," said Zev Buffman, president and CEO of Ruth Eckerd Hall, which manages the city-owned Capitol Theatre.
Now, seven months later, the rooftop terrace is finally ready. Able to accommodate up to 75 people, it's bound to become a popular spot on performance nights. It opens for business Sunday night for a show by a group called Classic Albums Live, which will be performing Creedence Clearwater Revival hits from Chronicle.
"It's a retreat. It's a very special place, a quaint and attractive space — open to the public, but private in feeling," Buffman said. "We're going to make it a top attraction."
Ruth Eckerd is also pitching the Capitol's rooftop in downtown Clearwater as a prime spot for business groups to hold catered receptions.
On show nights, the terrace will offer drinks and free hors d'oeuvres: she-crab soup and smoked fish spread, signature dishes of the iconic Frenchy's group of Clearwater Beach restaurants.
Frenchy's owner Michael Preston donated $350,000 to the Capitol's renovation in exchange for naming rights to the theater's rooftop. He said he wanted to help bring back a rejuvenated downtown like the one he remembered from when he arrived in Clearwater four decades ago.
Ruth Eckerd Hall is still working on selling naming rights to the entire Capitol Theatre, which would likely retain the "Capitol" part of its name. The restored theater's first quarter in business went well, according to financial reports, and Buffman says the second quarter went well, too.
The rooftop terrace offers a view of Clearwater Harbor, although it's partially blocked by the Harborview Center, which will likely be demolished.
"We have a water view. When that ugly convention center goes away, we'll have 50 percent more," Buffman said. "It's going to be the view of the world."
Contact Mike Brassfield at [email protected] or (727) 445-4151. Follow @MikeBrassfield.