Riverview, FL – Venerable Ruskin Drive-In uses family focus to survive new indoor competition

posted by ThrHistoricalSociety on December 27, 2016 at 8:49 am

Medium

From the Tampa Bay Times: There’s a brand new Publix across the street, a McDonald’s next door and two movie theaters about 15 minutes north in Riverview.

While the area around it bustles with development, the Ruskin Family Drive-In on Highway 41 has remained a constant in south Hillsborough County since it opened in 1952.

Owner Karen Freiwald said the new movie theaters — Goodrich Quality Theaters and Xscape Riverview 14 — aren’t hurting her business in the least.

“Our customers come from Bradenton, Sarasota, Port Charlotte, Venice,” Freiwald said. “If they’re going to drive by all those other theaters, they’re not going to stop for those.”

No, her biggest concern isn’t competition. Her customers are loyal. They like to sit outside in an atmosphere so family focused that her husband has been known to stop the movie if he catches someone sneaking a beer.

Rowdiness of any kind is forbidden. And at a time when tickets to an indoor theater with popcorn and drinks can set a family of four back $100, Freiwald works to keep prices low. For $24.99, one family of four ordered a large coke, two 12-inch pizzas, and two nachos. Movie tickets run $6 each for adults. Cash only.

“If you spent $40 here at the snack bar you wouldn’t even be able to eat it all,” Freiwald said. “Customers appreciate you looking out for their best interest and they come back for more.”

The biggest issue facing the Ruskin Family Drive-In is supply: The lineup of kids movies available has been running thin for the last several years.

“They don’t even make G-rated movies any more,” Freiwald said. “Everything is PG or PG-13.”

Her customers just don’t turn out when the movies are too violent, too complicated or sexual and that hurts business.

“Some people don’t even have kids, they just like the kids movies,” Freiwald said. “Customers will tell me they want to see more action movies but when I play them no one shows up.”

This year, the hottest kids movie of the holiday season is Sing, an animated, musical film starring a koala. But that’s about it. The second showing will be Almost Christmas, a live-action PG-13 movie about a family struggling to get along during the holidays.

A couple of years ago, Freiwald and all other theater operators had to come up with about $100,000 to upgrade to new digital projectors. She was able to make up the difference, but many drive-in operators weren’t. The Ruskin theater is now one of only about seven drive-ins in the state, Freiwald said. But the business is still going strong.

With space for 220 vehicles, there’s no more room to expand on the property. During peak season, like over the summer or during spring break, she has to turn people away because the lot fills up.

The Internet has made it easier for people to find the theater. And as it grows into more of a novelty, Freiwald said, she has seen an increase in European tourists seeking the old-time American experience.

But it’s the locals who have kept the business alive so long.

“I’ve been coming here my whole life,” said Chris Jordan, 47, of Ruskin, who had a front-row spot last week to see the new Jack Reacher movie with his 17 year-old son, 14-year-old daughter and his wife. “It’s kind of like you step back in time.”

Story link: http://www.blogs.tampabay.com/news/business/venerable-ruskin-drive-in-uses-family-focus-to-survive-new-indoor/2307087

ABOUT THEATRE HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF AMERICA: Founded by Ben Hall in 1969, the Theatre Historical Society of America (THS) celebrates, documents and promotes the architectural, cultural and social relevance of America’s historic theatres. Through its preservation of the collections in the American Theatre Architecture Archive, its signature publication Marquee™ and Conclave Theatre Tour, THS increases awareness, appreciation and scholarly study of America’s theatres.

Learn more about historic theatres in the THS American Theatre Architecture Archives and on our website at historictheatres.org

Large

Comments (1)

Kevinogijhome
Kevinogijhome on April 27, 2018 at 12:28 am

ST. LOUIS — Dexter Fowler avoided the first water-cooler shower, juking his way through a mob of teammates giddy on the infield dirt. oakland athletics jersers texas rangers jersers He could not avoid the second, the cold celebration that came minutes later, near his dugout. “I thought I eluded them, but los angeles angels of anaheim jersers they got me!” Fowler said afterwards. “I’ll be ready next time.” View Full Game Coverage Fowler on his walk-off knock Fowler on his walk-off knock 01:02 1:15 PM ET 01:01 1:15 PM ET “It was one of the best games I ever colorado rockies jersers played,” Martinez said. “We never gave up.” Flummoxed by Syndergaard for much oakland athletics jersers of the day, the Cardinals fought back from two deficits. Fowler and Marcell Ozuna, two slumping but important regulars, drove in key runs. Gant, who woke up pittsburgh pirates jersers blue avisail garcia authentic jersers as a member of Triple-A Memphis and could end up back in the Minors soon, picked up a bullpen asked to record 21 outs. The victory sent the Cardinals to Pittsburgh winners of 10 of 12. Ozuna’s RBI single in the 7th Ozuna’s RBI single in the 7th 00:47 1:15 PM wholesale baseball jersers ET “This was the miami marlins jersers most special game today for us,” Matheny said. “It took a little bit of everything. It took the entire roster.” Gant wasn’t even on the roster until a few hours prior to first pitch, swung up from Memphis as insurance to cover innings John Brebbia could not, after Brebbia’s three-inning save Wednesday. Gant entered after Martinez tied cincinnati reds jersers the game with a two-out double in the 10th, then breezed through a full turn of the Mets' lineup unscathed. “So much fun to be involved,” Gant said. “To compete is what I feel like I’m miami marlins jersers here for, and it’s an amazing feeling.” There were 37,762 fans at Busch Stadium expecting to see a high-octane duel, and that’s what they got, though both starters were long gone by the end. Syndergaard’s defense spoiled what was a dominant start through six; he finished with two runs (one earned) allowed over 7 1/3 innings. Martinez scattered four hits and a run over six frames, routinely wiggling out of jams brought upon by three hit batsmen.

You must login before making a comment.

New Comment