Casa Mañana unveils bar, lounge other improvements to the Reid Cabaret
By Scott Nishimura and Tori Couch
Photography by Olaf Growald
Casa Mañana has taken the wraps off the latest improvements to the Westside theater’s cabaret venue, adding a bar, lounge, exterior entrance and catering kitchen to The Reid Cabaret Theatre it opened in 2018.
The improvements came as Casa celebrated five seasons at the intimate cabaret, which Wally Jones, the executive director, credited with keeping the theater afloat amid COVID’s restrictions on large group gatherings.
“This kept us open during COVID,” Jones said. “We could tell from the response we needed to do more.”
Jones credited Casa’s donors, including the cabaret’s namesake Rusty and Molly Reid and their family, longtime supporters of Casa for the role it played in the career development of their daughter, the actress and producer Sainty Nelsen. The City of Fort Worth, which owns the facility, also has been generous with money for improvements.
“It’s always been a love of ours,” Rusty Reid, the CEO of the Fort Worth-based Higginbotham insurance, wealth management, and employee benefits firm, said during the grand opening in December. “I’m excited on behalf of my family to play a tiny role in making this happen.”
The cabaret, including the latest improvements, cost about $1.5 million. The city typically pays half of the quoted projected costs, with private contributions making up the rest.
Casa has expanded the cabaret in three phases. The first included moving the organization’s administrative offices within the building. The second, completed in 2022, increased the cabaret to 94 seats from 70, including the addition of booths.
The third phase, opened in December, included the full bar, lounge, catering kitchen and exterior entrance so patrons no longer have to walk into Casa to get to the cabaret.
The bar and lounge double as the centerpiece benefit for Casa’s Producers Club, offering drinks, buffet dining, dedicated restrooms and reserved parking before Casa’s Broadway shows. The dedicated restrooms and parking, in particular, score high with donors at any theater, Jones said.
“That’s a huge benefit to our donors,” he said. “What people want to give money for are parking spaces and bathrooms.”
Casa plans to expand food offerings in the cabaret, using the kitchen. The cabaret offered a full season of shows in 2023, and will do so again in 2024, to be announced in February, Jones said.
The cabaret next year will start with a schedule of five shows, and could add a sixth, Jones said.
The nature of the cabaret’s following has surprised Casa, Jones said. He expected much more crossover interest from the Casa’s Broadway shows than has occurred. The cabaret’s audience is older and loves the intimate feel of the small theater, Jones said.
Upcoming shows in the cabaret include “The Music of Linda Ronstadt” in February, “The Music of Harry Chapin and Jim Croce” in March and April, and “The Music of Elton John” in June.
“We’re really testing the market for what it will bear,” Jones said.
“People like the familiar music, they like the hour and a half timeframe, they like sitting at tables and being able to order a cocktail — they love the intimacy of the whole thing.”