Most, if not all, drive-in movie theaters would like to open soon, legally and safely, consistent with federal and state guidelines. Millions of Americans want drive-in movie theaters to open.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York said he’s open to the idea. Media are providing glowing commentary about drive-ins’ perfect positioning to provide a welcome distraction and help bring our economy back. However, we need your permission and regulations now so that we can prepare to open for Memorial Day weekend.
In 2014, when my brothers and I bought Mendon Twin Drive-In in Mendon, Mass., — 40 miles from Boston — we made sure that page one of the employee handbook stated: “The safety of our customers and employees is our number-one priority,” and this remains so. At our drive-in, 99 percent of the experience is outdoors or in your vehicle on our immaculate 16 acres.
Customers can purchase their tickets online. Every employee will wear a mask and gloves and be required to check their temperature before every shift. We’ll mark lines so customers maintain distance. We can reduce capacity in the parking lot and restrooms.
Food and drinks, including popcorn, can be covered and served in a takeout format just as restaurants are doing all over the country. We’ve sanitized the facilities and turned every picnic table upside down. Our business will be safer than a supermarket, a big box retailer, or a bus — all of which are open for business.
World-renowned scientists and economists working for the federal government have determined that we can’t and shouldn’t treat every spacious, suburban town like Times Square or every business like a 100,000 person stadium. We must focus on safety, not necessity.
America will soon reach 30 million jobs lost, which could quickly rise to 40 million jobs lost, negatively affecting 100 million Americans in these families, if we don’t begin to logically open businesses outside hot spot areas.
Less income and business tax revenue and more benefits paid from unemployment to food stamps means fewer funds for government services from cleaning the streets to mental and physical health care. Drive-ins provide wages, taxes and affordable, family-friendly entertainment, all desperately needed given current circumstances.
I’ll work at the drive-in every night we’re open. I have family, friends, employees and customers whom I love. I would never do anything that’s not in their interest or the public interest. I’m not a hero like a first responder or health care worker or food provider.
However, I hire people and generate tax revenue. I have a civic and moral obligation to do this. It’s my contribution to a country that enabled my great grandparents to arrive here with nothing, opening a path to freedom and prosperity, for my seven nieces and nephews, which my brave ancestors never could have imagined.
Like the song says: “Put me in, coach, I’m ready to play, today.” Hundreds of drive-in movie theaters, and millions of other small businesses, feel the same way. I urge them to publicly announce their plans to legally and safely reopen (permission to plagiarize and customize this letter is hereby granted).
As the federal government is working with the states, the states must work with the business owners, everyone cooperating in the name of safety and prosperity. Let’s start building again, it’s what Americans are born to do, and what’s more American than a drive-in movie theater?
Yours in flicks, food, and fun,
— Dave Andelman
Dave Andelman is CEO of Phantom Gourmet and president of Mendon Twin Drive-In in Mendon, Massachusetts. He wrote this for InsideSources.com.