Renee and Jon Jelinek: Cheyenne Trailblazers

Cheyenne, Wyoming, has evolved into a vibrant hub of music, culture, and art, thanks in part to the tireless efforts of Wyoming natives and serial entrepreneurs Renee and Jon Jelinek. The couple have turned many historic buildings into bustling businesses, including The Lincoln, Cheyenne’s newest live music venue.

Finding a Way to Music

Long before The Lincoln, the Jelinek’s opened several businesses in downtown Cheyenne, including the Paramount Café, a quaint café supplying fresh-roasted coffee, pastries, and light fare in a stately century-old theater; The Second Floor, a coworking space on the second floor of the café, Paramount Ballroom, a handcrafted cocktail lounge next door to the café, and The Majestic Building, an office with spaces for lease. So when The Lincoln became available, they took a chance to add an entertainment venue to their business portfolio.

“Music has always been a part of our family's life, going to different concerts in different places,” said Renee. “We had always talked about how this place would make an amazing music venue — it always spoke to us in that way. And when we stumbled upon it being for sale, things just kind of happened from there.”

"We knew what it was going to be. We knew how it was going to look. We knew we could envision 1,200 people standing in here watching artists like Ice Cube and give the community something that they haven't had for years," added Jon.

The Lincoln Cheyenne, a historic building dating back to 1928, has undergone a series of transformations from a live performance theater to a full-time movie theater. When the Jelinek’s acquired the building, they embarked on an ambitious project to restore it to its former glory and create a world-class 1,200-capacity music venue. The pulled seats from the main level to offer a transformative space that can go from an open dance floor to tables and chairs. The balcony adds more seats and a comfortable birds-eye view of the stage.

While they welcome acts of all genres, from rap to heavy metal and everything in between, they embrace Cheyenne’s Western roots, just not so literally. Visitors will note the Western themes around the theater, including a bar top made of wallpaper designed with a snake vertebrae horse bit pattern and a green room full of pinup cowgirls.

Despite having no prior experience in the industry, they channeled their love for the art form and committed to learning every aspect of the business to set the standard not just for Cheyenne but for venues everywhere. Their goal is to provide a platform for local talent while bringing in nationally renowned acts to give the community a taste of world-class entertainment.

The couple worked tirelessly to put Cheyenne on the map as a touring destination. Word soon got out about the personal touches they offered artists when they stopped to play in Cheyenne.

Plus, The Lincoln’s intimate setting affords the opportunity for artists to mingle with the audience and get closer to their fans. “The Lincoln is a smaller venue, and it’s built so that no matter where you're at, you're going to have a great view of the stage,” said Renee. “Being able to be closer to your favorite artists and actually be able to see them, touch them, meet them, that's something that doesn't happen at
bigger venues.”

Living, Working, and Playing in Cheyenne

Renee and Jon see Cheyenne constantly evolving, crediting the transformation over the past decade as a testament to the vision and determination of its residents. From a downtown with only a few stores and bars, Cheyenne has become a bustling cultural epicenter where creativity and innovation are embraced. The tight-knit and supportive community comes together to share their knowledge and help one another in ways that are often hard to find in larger cities, and this spirit of collaboration makes Cheyenne an inviting and dynamic place to live, work, and play.

For many years, Cheyenne Frontier Days and the concerts at the annual rodeo celebration were the big draw. Today, there is so much more to explore, thanks to innovative trailblazers across Cheyenne. Together, they have helped to bring live music to Cheyenne at Fridays on the Plaza, Edgefest, weekly live music at The Outlaw Saloon, and open mic nights and music at the local breweries. When visitors come for a show, whether it’s at The Lincoln or around town, they can stay and explore the thriving historic downtown, offering elevated eateries, boutique shops, a strong arts scene, and more.

“We realized there was just this cool tribe of people that we didn't know even existed until we came downtown,” said Jon. “There's been a history of people trying to do great things for downtown long before us, including people trying to create a live music scene. In a lot of ways, we feel like we're just helping pick up the torch to take it to the next level.”

Fostering Local Talent and Community

Renee and Jon's commitment to their community extends beyond their businesses through their nonprofit organization, the Alternative Arts Project. What began with giving teens in Cheyenne free music lessons now offers free concert tickets. This initiative seeks to inspire the city's youth, exposing them to different genres and styles of music, broadening their horizons, and encouraging them to appreciate Cheyenne as a vibrant, evolving cultural hub by giving them the gift of free access to live music.

Renee and Jon's unwavering commitment to change, innovation, and progress has helped transform Cheyenne into a city of promise and possibility. As they continue to pioneer new ventures and bring forth their vision, Cheyenne will undoubtedly continue to evolve and shine as a beacon of culture in Wyoming.

“We'd love to see Cheyenne turn into a music city rivaling Austin or Nashville 'cause there's already a lot happening downtown and all over Cheyenne,” said Jon. “We're just kids from Wyoming that are trying to give back a little bit it's given us.”