Butter Run Saloon owner to turn historic Shores Theatre into music venue and restaurant

St. Clair Shores native David Harden has purchased the historic property that dates back to the 1930s

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News
The Shores Theatre, seen here on Friday, April 19, 2019, has been vacant for several years. St. Clair Shores native David Harden has purchased the historic property that dates back to the 1930s. The owner of the Butter Run Saloon plans to develop it into a restaurant, bar and entertainment venue.

St. Clair Shores — After sitting empty for more than a decade, the historic Shores Theatre at Nine Mile and Mack, in the heart of the city, has a bright future ahead of it as a restaurant and music venue. 

David Harden, owner of the Butter Run Saloon located north in the same city, closed on the deal this week. He purchased the old theater from LaHood Properties, which took over the building in hopes of reopening it as a theater. 

Harden said the issue was parking, but because he came up with a different concept for the space, he was able to get approval from the zoning board.

"The plan is to put a restaurant and bar on one half, and then an entertainment venue on the other half," he said, adding the downstairs is about 9,500 square feet and the upstairs is almost 1,900 square feet. Upstairs, he wants to build a balcony overlooking the music venue and make that area a private room. 

The Shores Theater in 2006.

The St. Clair Shores native said he was attending an outdoor event near the theater last summer when he was inspired to take on this endeavor. 

"I was at Rockin' the Shores last summer, watching Vinnie (Dombrowski) play with the Orbitsuns, and I looked to my left and thought, you know what, that (theater) would make a great music venue," he said, adding that he'd be open to having national and local acts in the vein of rock and roll or Americana. "Live music, maybe some comedy during the week." 

The Shores Theatre dates back to the 1930s. Before closing around 2006, there were plans for a $3 million project that included demolishing the two-screen theater and building a new facility with more screens and adding more capacity.

According to The Detroit News archives, this move was appealed by nearby businesses including Travis Hamburgers across the street and LaHood Properties, which obtained the theater in later years. While the plan was approved by a judge, it ultimately didn't happen. 

The interior of the Shores Theatre, which has been closed for more than a decade in St. Clair Shores.

Harden, who declined to say how much he paid for the historic theater, says he hopes to open in 18 months to two years. 

"Next step is demolition and remodeling ... the screens are gone, the chairs are going to be gone," he said. "It's going to be time-consuming. I'm going to have to level off the floor, because it being a theater it slopes. That will be the hardest thing to do ... it'll be a lot like when I did the Butter Run. I'm going to do a lot of the work myself." 

He's not ready to talk about the concept or name for the restaurant side but is considering keep the name "Shores Theatre" for the music venue. 


Twitter: @melodybaetens