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Historic movie theater selling curbside popcorn to stay afloat amid pandemic

Posted at 6:08 PM, May 21, 2020

PARK RIDGE, Ill. -- Some states have given the go-ahead for movie theaters to begin reopening, but with no new releases and many weary about visiting a crowded theater, smaller cinemas are downright worried about whether they can survive. However, one owner says that doesn’t mean movie night can’t still come to life, and he’s found a way to keep his business afloat creatively.

With its iconic Art Deco design and classic marquee, the Pickwick Theater in downtown Park Ridge, Illinois, is a throwback to cinema halls of yesteryear.

“The theater was built in 1928,” said co-owner David Loomis. “Our family has owned it since 1967.”

Loomis says it has been a mainstay for generations, having been renovated several times over the years.

“You know now we have 900 seats, used to be originally in 1928, 1,600 seats,” said Loomis.

Since 1974, the Pickwick has been listed in the national register of historic places.

“It's a landmark building, so you know we have some fame and fortune from that and not much fortune but fame,” said Loomis.

For 1980s film buffs, the iconic theater’s marquee and box office may look familiar. It was used in the opening sequence of “At the Movies” with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert from 1982 to 1986.

But for the last two and a half months, the balcony has been closed to moviegoers and the box office idle.

“You know it's a challenge and people are afraid to come out and now with the social distancing they really can't come out,” said Loomis.

Still, the popcorn is popping. Twice a week, the Pickwick sells it for curbside pickup, along with candy and other movie night must-haves.

“So, I’m glad. That's why we're here. So, we'll go home settle down and watch a movie,” said Alice Kason, a Pickwick customer.

So far, the venture has been a box office success. Cars have lined up to pick up the buttery goodness that the Pickwick has been offering up, minus the movie.

“We have a lot of people that normally just walk in. ‘Can I just buy some popcorn?’ So, when we did this, people are just loving it,” said Loomis.

It’s a testament to the power of cinema and a community coming together.