Biz Buzz: Local theater planning to reopen soon after being shut down for a year
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Do you want to know what’s happening in the eastern Idaho business scene? We’ve got you covered. Here is a rundown of this week’s business news across the valley.
Tentative date planned for Edwards Cinemas to reopen
AMMON – Edwards Grand Teton Cinemas has been closed for over a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the general manager hopes that will soon change.
Kyle Roberts tells EastIdahoNews.com the theater should reopen soon. Although the specific date will be determined by Regal Entertainment Group, the theater’s corporate office, Roberts hopes to have movies on the big screen by the end of April.
“We’re hoping (to be ready by then),” Roberts says. “What we’ve been waiting for is for all the movie studios to be for sure (on movie releases and distributions). It looks like all the movies are locking in, and it should be good to go from there.”
Regal Entertainment Group has not responded to a request for comment about the reopening.
Roberts says Walt Disney studios recently confirmed the theatrical release of the new Marvel film “Black Widow.” It’s one of the first movies Edwards is planning to show, and Roberts is hoping for a good turnout.
It’s been an extremely difficult year for theaters across the country. Earlier this week a tax lien notice was placed inside the Ammon Edwards main entrance that reads, “IN THE DISTRAINT OF PERSONAL PROPERTY OF EDWARDS CINEMAS #131040 FOR NON PAYMENT OF TAX.”
The document, dated March 10, indicates $3,559.96 is past due. It is signed by Bonneville County Treasurer Mark Hansen and a deputy from the Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office.
Hansen says the notice is about the collection of taxes for equipment used to run the business and other personal property inside the building, not the building itself.
“In this case, we had a December due date. The due date came and went and no taxes were paid. Sometime in early January, we started sending out letters saying we have this tax that hasn’t been paid. If we don’t get any response, we send it to the sheriff to collect. The sheriff then sends out a letter,” Hansen says.
It’s unclear what the new deadline is to pay off the debt and Hansen says the personal property will ultimately be posted for sale if no taxes are paid.
Roberts says Regal Entertainment is responsible for paying those taxes, and he’s confident they will. The lack of payment is likely due to a shortage of staff resulting from layoffs amid the pandemic, Roberts says.
“I feel bad because theaters, restaurants and other businesses have just been hammered this last year with COVID and shutdowns,” Hansen says. “I think everybody’s struggling, and I have no doubt (Edwards) is going to come through, but we have to follow our process.”
Roberts says the matter will be taken care of.
“My corporate office usually has a full accounting team that pays out these things. I think they’re down to a handful of people doing all the theaters, so property taxes are getting missed and they’re catching them as they come up,” Roberts says.
Though there may be long-term repercussions associated with Edwards’ closure, Roberts says people are eager for a night at the movies again and believes business will quickly bounce back.
“As soon as we come back and the studios start putting out movies (again), I think movie theaters are going to bounce back, especially with the vaccine rolling out as it is,” says Roberts. “I’ll be happy to see all my regulars back, and I’ll be happy to (serve customers) who want to come out and watch movies again.”
All furloughed employees will be returning, Roberts says, and annual movie passes bought before the shutdown will be honored when the theater reopens.
“The time that we’re closed doesn’t count toward their annual,” he says. “The membership is paused and will restart as soon as we reopen. So, whatever amount (of time) is remaining (on their pass) from last March (will still be available from the date we open).”
More information is expected to be released once an official opening date is announced.
SMALL BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT
Local couple makes potato chips ‘from farm to bag’ while giving back to the community
ABERDEEN – Surrounded by hundreds of acres of farmland in the community of Aberdeen is a small production plant that makes thousands of potato chips every day.
Ladd Wahlen and his wife, Zoey, own their own potato farm and decided to launch Roots Potato Chips a little more than three weeks ago. Ladd tells EastIdahoNews.com they love being able to provide chips made from locally-grown potatoes to customers throughout eastern Idaho.