Holland theaters, entertainment centers tackle reopening – News – Holland Sentinel

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HOLLAND — Local entertainment venues celebrated an important milestone last weekend.

After facing state-mandated closure for six months, businesses like GQT Holland 7, AMC Holland 8, The Lost City and Park Theatre were delivered a win after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order allowing them to reopen Friday, Oct. 9.

The order mandates 20 people per 1,000 square feet or 20 percent of fixed seating capacity, with a maximum of 500 people. Face coverings and social distancing are required.

Waiting for the right moment

Not all venues have chosen to reopen immediately.

Sperry’s Moviehouse in downtown Holland, for example, announced shortly after the order was signed it will remain closed until mid-November, though private showings can be scheduled.

Meanwhile, The Lost City, a laser tag and arcade center that has been located in Holland Town Center for a quarter-century, has lost many of its workers due to the pandemic.

According to ownership, the goal is to reopen in November, pending negotiations with the center’s landlord and the rehiring of employees.

Ready to roll

Meanwhile, Bam Entertainment Center on 16th Street quickly organized the opening of its escape rooms, laser tag and arcade experiences following the announcement of the order. The business reopened its bowling center in mid-September.

Reservations for bowling or escape rooms can be made online at gobamgo.com.

GQT Holland 7 also jumped at the opportunity to welcome the public with showings of Hocus Pocus, Henchmen and Unhinged.

When customers reserve seats online, an automatic buffer of three seats between their party and the next is added. Tickets are $7 for matinee showings; $7 for students, military members, seniors and children aged three to 12 in the evenings; and $8.50 for adults in the evenings.

Earlier this year, staff at GQT Holland 7 were told it would not reopen amidst Goodrich Quality Theater’s bankruptcy filing before the pandemic.

However, a press release from the company — now known as Goodrich Theater NewCo, LLC or New GQT — announced it had been sold to Mason Asset Management and Namdar Realty Group and would reopen 12 shuttered locations.

“We are pleased to welcome the majority of GQT’s former general managers and staff to the New GQT team, and are aiming to facilitate a smooth transition to reopening,” Mark McSparin, president of New GQT, said in a statement early this month.

“We are truly excited to be acquiring and reopening the GQT theaters and we remain optimistic about the future of the industry. We will reopen with the main objective of maintaining quality operations for our guests through cleanliness, customer service, and value.”

For updated pricing and showtimes, visit facebook.com/GQTHolland.

‘We’re trying to be the model’

Downtown Holland’s Park Theatre will reopen Saturday, Oct. 31.

“We’re just trying to get three months of work done in one month,” said Park Theatre General Manager Brandon Blank. “But this has been a great, positive reinforcement to get up and back to what we love doing.”

The experience will be significantly different than before the pandemic.

“We’ll be doing seated tables,” Blank said. “We are encouraging and asking that you come with members from your home. You’ll purchase the table as a single table. Masks will be required in line and until you reach your table.

“Once you’re seated, there’ll be drinks and food, so you can take it off. And you’ll be seated for the duration of the event. Hopefully, people will only need to get up to get some fresh air or use the restroom.”

According to Blank, the venue pulled ideas from the restaurant industry to build a safe plan for reopening.

“We’re trying to be the model that can help push this industry in the right direction on how to operate a socially distanced event,” Blank said. “That’s been our main focus. How do we keep our staff and community safe?”

On its opening night, the theater will host Melophobix, a nine-piece funk band from Grand Rapids.

“We’re going big with the music,” Blank said. “We’re really trying to prove, right out of the gate, that we can provide entertainment that has substance and fun and shows what we’re all about here.”

Follow the venue at facebook.com/ParkTheatreHolland for up-to-date event information.

Struggling to survive

Large chain movie theaters have faced particularly difficult challenges when it comes to reopening. Last week, Regal Cinemas announced it would close all 536 locations in the country.

The decision came less than two months after Regal began to reopen theaters. A statement from the business said the closures are temporary, but did not announce when theaters would reopen.

AMC — which has a location on James Street in Holland — has fared only slightly better. While not forced to close locations a second time, stocks for the company have performed poorly over the last several months as big-budget film releases are repeatedly pushed back.

This week, the company announced it may have to file for bankruptcy before the end of the year.

According to Holland’s AMC webpage, the theater has reopened for afternoon and evening showings. Currently, offerings include Coco, Tenet and The War With Grandpa.

— Contact reporter Cassandra Lybrink at clybrink@gannett.com. Follow her on Instagram @BizHolland.

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