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Theatre Enjoys Solid Opening Weekend

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It was a successful reopening weekend for Countryfest Community Cinema (CCC).

The local theatre reopened, July 23, with all four screens in use.

CCC general manager Ron Suchoplas said they could have opened, July 17, but because it was such short notice, they had no time to fill the theatre’s inventory.

“Because we kept it really thin for our curbside delivery. And we had to pretty well hire all new concession staff and get some training in, in a couple of days,” he said, adding they did a couple of soft openings without guests to train some of the younger staff. “I give those guys and girls credit. It was almost like opening again. I remember when we first opened the theatre 10 years ago, with a new staff, even myself being new, into that type of theatre system where you had a point-of-sale, different procedures, four movies instead of one, I kind of learned as we went, too,” he said.

“It was almost like that, but this time we didn’t have to finish parts of the building to get it going. Everything was ready to go except our staff.”

The stock arrived at the theatre, July 22, the day before the reopening.

“Everything was so hectic in the last few days. I was joking with some people that I’d be up sun-up to sun-down to get things ready to get going for Friday,” Suchoplas said. “That way people that came to the theatre, when they walked in it was business as usual.”

Suchoplas calculated the theatre was closed for 15 of the last 19 months.

For now, the theatre is only open five days a week, mainly due to staffing issues.

“We don’t have enough staff to do two shifts right now. I’ve got five dedicated staff then I’ve got four part-timers that all work at other jobs,” Suchoplas said, adding some former staff members came back for a couple of days to help train the new staff.

“They were gracious to come back and spend two nights with our new staff in the concession and train them. So it felt very good to see them come back and getting ready to serve popcorn again and play movies,” he said.

More than 230 people took in movies on the big screen over the course of the weekend.
Given everything going on in the world right now, Suchoplas said, “that wasn’t too bad.”

“That was like 80 people a night. And happy faces after the movies were done. People just wanted to see stuff on the big screen,” he said.

Because of the staff shortage, for now there are only two showtimes for each screen.

“As time goes on and we get more people and they’re getting better trained, we’re going to look at having more movies again and every day of the week,” Suchoplas said.

The same guidelines as before are still in place when it comes to mask wearing. Suchoplas said customers can remove the mask when they sit down, but must wear it when moving around.

“We’re just happy to see people coming back to the movies. It’s been a very positive experience and I’ve seen two or three families came back two or three times. It’s great to see,” he said.

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Doug Zywina
REPORTER
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