BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The community came one step closer to eating popcorn and watching independent films at the newly restored North Park Theatre on Hertel Avenue.

On Friday, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., the owners threw a fundraising gala to raise money as well as give community members a sneak peak of the theatre. Partygoers enjoyed food catered by Left Bank and Globe Market, an open bar and live music while watching a showing of the theatre's before and after shots on the big screen.

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A few hundred people attended the event, which was $75 per ticket.

Thomas Eoannou, a Buffalo attorney and the co-owner of North Park Theatre, said the public's overall support has made him feel glad he invested in reopening the Buffalo landmark.

"People tell us incredible stories," Eoannou said. "There was a lady that came here in 1939 that paid 17 cents for her ticket; there was another gentleman in his 70s and said, for 25 cents, you could watch cartoons all day long. I mean, everyone's got a story and it's just wonderful to hear the history of the place."

Eoannou and his co-owner Michael G. Christiano, who owns Left Bank, are keeping the establishment as an independent, art film theater as it was before it closed in June. They don't know which independent film they'll show first, but they're expecting to open for their first movie in 4 to 5 weeks.

Eoannou said the decision of what film to screen first is under "major discussion with a lot of people," including an art broker from Atlanta. He hopes they'll know for sure in a couple of weeks.

In May, many art and film enthusiasts in the Buffalo community were devastated when Dipson Theatres announced it would close the aging movie landmark. Eoannou and Christiano have invested in the theater's restoration, and Friday evening's gala gave the community another jolt of hope in the steps toward its re-establishment.