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Film fest organizers bemoan Port Washington cinema closure

The Bow Tie Cinemas that closed in January was a key venue for the annual Gold Coast International Film Festival, and the hunt is on to find enough seating for screenings.

Bow Tie Cinemas on Main Street in Port

Bow Tie Cinemas on Main Street in Port Washington opened in 1927 as the Beacon Theatre but closed unexpectedly in January. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

The Bow Tie Cinemas in Port Washington unexpectedly closed earlier this year, leaving a void in North Hempstead’s entertainment scene and displacing part of an annual fall film festival.

The theater, located on Main Street, stopped showing movies in January, but “everybody is still in shock from the departure,” said Laura Mogul, executive director at the Landmark, a performing arts center on Main Street.

“I don’t think anyone has come together for a new vision for that place,” she added.

The theater opened in 1927 as the Beacon Theatre. The building’s ownership changed hands through the years, including being taken over by Clearview Cinemas in 1995. Bow Tie Cinemas acquired Clearview in 2013 and took ownership of the Port Washington theater.

Officials at Ridgefield, Connecticut-based Bow Tie did not return repeated phone calls seeking comment. The company operates four other theaters on Long Island — in New Hyde Park, Manhasset, Roslyn and Great Neck. Employees at those locations declined to comment about the Port Washington closing.

The theater was one of many venues the Gold Coast Arts Center used during its Gold Coast International Film Festival. The center’s founder, Regina Gil, said the location was important because it had a 300-seat room, making it the largest venue for film screenings. With that site gone, festival organizers now need a place of equal or greater seating.

“We’re scrambling to figure out where we’re going to do part of the film festival,” Gil said, adding that this year’s festival starts in November.

The festival, first held in 2011, will continue using theaters across North Hempstead, Gil said, but the other locations seat fewer than 200 people. She said some at the arts center have tried to contact Bow Tie officials but have had no luck.

Supervisor Judi Bosworth called the Bow Tie’s closing unfortunate because movie theaters are typically customer magnets for nearby businesses.

Another town official said there is a special nostalgia tied to the theater that Port Washington residents will miss.

“It’d be nice if a different type of arts or entertainment venue opened there,” said Dina De Giorgio, a North Hempstead Town councilwoman whose district includes Port Washington.

Along the hamlet’s Main Street, there are art galleries, a library, the Landmark and live music playing inside The Dolphin Bookshop. Those venues, along with Bow Tie, created a healthy mix of arts and entertainment options for North Hempstead residents, Mogul said.

“It’s sad to see another entertainment provider leave,” Mogul said. “It leaves a gaping hole in the cultural landscape of Main Street.”

FAST FACTS

  • It opened in 1927 and was known as the Beacon Theatre
  • It was owned and operated by Clearview Cinemas from 1995 to 2013
  • The building was renamed Bow Tie in 2013
  • The two-story building stretches across 114 to 116 Main St.

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