SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – The Alamo Drafthouse in Springfield announced via Facebook it will reopen its doors and fire up its screens on Friday, Aug. 21. It’s an announcement that comes after a tough couple months.
In late June, creative manager Jennifer Johnmeyer says about 199 employees were laid off.
“We were in the same situation everybody was,” Johnmeyer said. “It was unfortunate. We are a very close team. We have a great group of people. Disbanding for any length of time has been very hard for us, as it has been for everybody.”
Another hurdle the local cinema had to overcome was not knowing what was going to happen. Johnmeyer says it was great to have the community’s support all the way throughout, but the cinema wanted everyone to be safe and to not return prematurely.
Johnmeyer says she missed movies.
“You don’t realize how much that means to go have that shared experience with people who love movies as much as you do,” Johnmeyer said. “It was lonely. It’s been lonely for a lot of us, but that was hard.”
So, how did the Alamo overcome all of this adversity? Johnmeyer says the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema has a great team in Austin, Texas, that looked at every possible scenario.
“We wanted to open sooner,” Johnmeyer said. “We saw that it wasn’t the right move. We wanted to do it safely. We wanted to do it the right way. We wanted to take care of our guests. I feel that now we have everything in place to do just that.”
When doors reopen next week, tickets must be bought online, as well as all food and drink orders.
“That’s because we want to eliminate as much touch points as possible,” Johnmeyer said.
Moviegoers will have their temperatures taken at the door. Guests will be asked if they’re showing any symptoms or have been around anyone recently who has. Your pre-ordered food will be delivered to your seats, however, additional orders will not be allowed. Masks are required inside the building and all theaters. Two seat buffers will be between parties to allow for six feet of social distancing.
“If [customers] are unaware, we have masks for them,” Johnmeyer said. “If they’re not willing to follow [the guidelines] we ask that they stay home. We want everybody to feel safe and that we’re taking all the necessary precautions. We aren’t going to tolerate anyone who is not willing to wear a mask.”
But accommodations will be made for glasses wearers, whose masks often fog up. If you are seated and aren’t moving, you can remove your mask. But, if you get up to go to the restroom, you have to put on a mask. The cinema will start with seven theaters. Johnmeyer says it will probably move quickly to 14. At least half of the theater will be empty in each theater.
“If anything, it’s going to be even easier,” Johnmeyer said. “We’ve got the door for you. You just walk in, sit down, you’ve already made your order. We’ll bring that to you. But, other than that we’re the same place. Still no talking and texting. We still love you guys, and we’re just ready to see our guests come back.”
Johnmeyer says eventually, the employees who were laid off will return. It’s a day-to-day situation. The goal is to have all of them return in the fall. She says she’s excited to get back to work.
“Movies are my life, and I’ve just really missed the people here,” Johnmeyer said. “I’ve never worked anywhere with people this excited and passionate about what we do. And, our guests are the same way. So, welcome back guys. We’ve been waiting for you for a long time.”
Alamo Drafthouse is not the only movie theater in town to reopen its doors. AMC Theaters also announced they are reopening on Aug. 20.