Three hobbits walk into a bar…


Mackenzie Crosson

Thalia Hall, 1807 S. Allport St., will be screening one part of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy and hosting a Middle Earth-inspired dinner each night from March 20–22. 

By Kendrah Villiesse

Fans will soon be able to follow Frodo through the Shire and eat like hobbits during a three-day “Lord of the Rings” movie marathon in Pilsen.

Thalia Hall, 1807 S. Allport St., will be screening one part of the famous J.R.R. Tolkien trilogy and hosting a Middle Earth-inspired dinner each night from March 20–22. Tickets are $5 for the movie and $30 for the dinner. 

Pete Falknor, general manager at Thalia Hall and 2009 Columbia business and entrepreneurship alumnus, said he just happened to be looking at the venue’s calendar when he realized there was a three-night gap. He decided it would be a great opportunity to host the “Lord of the Rings” movie screening and themed dinner for viewers to enjoy. 

“I saw this three-night window and started to think of ways to make it a full-on experience,” he said. “I grew up in Arlington Heights, so class field trips were to Medieval Times. I [thought], we have a hall, we should do medieval times in Thalia Hall, but we will show ‘Lord of the Rings’ movies.” 

Thalia Hall’s Middle Earth feast will consist of utensil-free foods that would be eaten in the Shire, including a smoked turkey leg, potato stew and a twist on lembas bread, according to Falknor. 

Hopewell Brewing, a Logan Square-based brewery, will also take part in the celebration and craft an ale inspired by the Middle Earth pub, the Prancing Pony.

Samantha Lee, one of the three founders of the Hopewell Brewing Company, said the ale will complement the meal from Thalia Hall perfectly because it does not have an overwhelming taste and is not too sweet or bitter. 

“The idea behind the beer is that it will be a riff on a beer that we have year round, called Family Saison,” Lee said. “It is traditionally a beer that people would enjoy after a hard day’s work.” 

Jeremy Whitmer, a systems analyst at Cision, a public relations and media software and services provider company, grew up reading Tolkien’s books and said some of his fondest memories were of  his dad reading the books to him and realizing what fantastical stories they were. 

Whitmer said the idea of Thalia Hall hosting a “Lord of the Rings” marathon and themed dinner is a great idea because it allows people with the same interests to share their passions.  

“[It is] a cool idea to try and get people to sit around and watch these epic movies that are starting to get a little old,” Whitmer said. “It draws in a cool crowd, people are enthusiastic about that stuff and so you know everyone is going to be there to have a good time and bring something more than just a social drinking hour.”

If it is done right, Falknor said incorporating films into restaurants and bars can elevate the customer experience. 

“We are lucky enough to have this space that was built in 1892 that does not just include the theater but it includes our other bars,” Falknor said. “We are always looking at these creative ways.”