Bethel Cinema

269 Greenwood Avenue,
Bethel, CT 06801

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shoeshoe14
shoeshoe14 on June 25, 2005 at 3:06 am

Bethel Cinema to change hands
New owner plans to reopen restaurant
By Brian Saxton

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BETHEL â€" Bethel Cinema, popular home to nearly 2,000 movies and independent films from America and other parts of the world for 13 years, is about to get a new owner.

Redding entrepreneur and movie buff Scott Rhoades cq said Friday jun 24 he has agreed to buy the Greenwood Avenue movie complex.

“It’s under contract and we’re hoping it will go through shortly,” said Rhoades.

Paul Schuyler, current owner and founder of the cinema, confirmed the two sides are close to “signing the dotted line.”

Schuyler, 45, said the sale price is “close” to the $650,000 he has been asking. That includes everything in the cinema’s four theaters, from seats and projectors to computers and the concession stand inside the front lobby.

The cinema, which has 17 years left on its lease, rents more than 9,000 square feet and can seat 425 people. Schuyler has said it generates $1 million a year.

“It’s a wonderful business and Paul Schuyler has done a wonderful job,” said Rhoades. “I want everyone out there to know that I have absolutely no intention of changing anything there.”

Rhoades, 51, acknowledged there had been some public concern about a new owner making changes at the cinema.

Bethel Cinema has become widely popular in northern Fairfield County because of its successful avant-garde approach to acquiring new and independent films.

“I’m very anxious to make sure the customers are happy,” said Rhoades. “I’m a movie buff and this will be a hands-on business, but I’m not here to try to reinvent the wheel. I want it to remain a wonderful experience for the patrons.”

Schuyler welcomed Rhoades' strategy.

“I’m pleased to think he’s going to keep the cinema the way it is,” Schuyler said.

The deal also includes Rhoades reopening the cinema’s adjoining restaurant, which has been empty since two previous eateries closed.

“I’d like to open it as a pre-theater restaurant where people can eat before going into the cinema or relax after a show,” said Rhoades. “I’d like to see it offering light, organic food.”

The restaurant, once called The Emerald Cafe, may eventually assume Rhoades' current working title, The Commissary, a name traditionally used for eateries in movie or television studios.

Schuyler is selling the cinema to move to Sarasota, Fla., where he is building a 260-seat IMAX theater in a multi-million dollar entertainment complex.

“It’s something new,” Schuyler said recently. “I’ve done this (Bethel Cinema) for 13 years and I’ve lived in the northeast most of my life. I’d like to try living somewhere else.”

Bethel Cinema, once a family movie theater and later an adult, X-rated cinema, was later home to the Bright Clouds ministry before the church moved to Danbury.

It opened after renovations in two small theaters in January 1993 with a showing of “Howard’s End” and “Damage.”

Schuyler expanded the cinema over the years by either leasing extra space in the building or putting on additions.

Rhoades, who lived with his wife, Deborah, in Ridgefield before moving to Redding two years ago, has been a lifelong businessman and entrepreneur.

From 1995 until this year, he ran his own marketing and management consulting firm. Rhoades still teaches marketing in graduate school at the Polytechnic University in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Rhoades' wife of 27 years says she’s just as pleased about the acquisition as her husband. Both have been regular patrons at Bethel Cinema.

“I’m very excited,” said Deborah Rhoades, who once worked in publishing in New York City. “"I love the movies. It’ll be like having our own movie theater.”

shoeshoe14
shoeshoe14 on June 25, 2005 at 3:06 am

2 weeks ago, the LemonGrass Cafe closed since the owner had problems with Paul, the theater owner. That’s 2 restaurants that closed in that spot in a short time. They have a brand new marquee installed a few months ago and the restaurant is still on it.

shoeshoe14
shoeshoe14 on May 30, 2005 at 5:13 am

Correction. The cinema has 425 seats.

shoeshoe14
shoeshoe14 on May 10, 2005 at 8:48 am

well, it actually happened. Bethel Cinema for sale. Read it here before the link expires. View link
i hope someone can continue to run the place amazingly and keep it independent. it still holds the distinction of doing extremely well, given its close proximity to the nearby megaplex.

shoeshoe14
shoeshoe14 on April 11, 2005 at 8:00 pm

Bethel Cinema will be holding the 1st Annual Bethel Film Festival from October 25-30, 2005. They are offering free passes to anyone who completes the survey before April 25th at www.bethelfilmfestival.com/survery

shoeshoe14
shoeshoe14 on March 27, 2005 at 10:32 am

Great News!!! There are flyers up in the theatre lobby for the first ever Bethel Film Festival, featuring local filmmakers and other indy documentaries. Flyers are available at the theater pretty soon for distro. It’s funded by some local businesses, some rich benefactors and some banks. Unfortunately, i just found out that the owner, Paul Schuyler wants to sell the place and move down to Florida with his wife and kids. He’s only 45 years old but he wants to sell it to someone who will retain its charm and independence. We all wish that.
So if anyone wants in, take it.

shoeshoe14
shoeshoe14 on March 27, 2005 at 10:30 am

Here’s an update on the Lemongrass Cafe. My friend who works there told me there was a change of ownership, briefly but for the better. A month ago the cafe opened and was owned by Bethel Cinema but only lasted 2 weeks. Then a rich owner came in and offered the cinema more than the asking price and they took it. This guy re-opened it as the Lemongrass Cafe.

shoeshoe14
shoeshoe14 on March 24, 2005 at 3:27 pm

Hey folks, the old Emerald City Cafe that was adjacent to the cinema closed some 4 or 5 months ago. It just reopened last week and my friend is the new manager. It’s called the Lemon Grass Cafe and it’s a whole lot nicer than the old place. It’s got frosted glass on the outside so you can’t see in, it’s painted red everywhere, has a larger dining room and a bar in the back serving wine and beer, a great addition to the local yuppies. Of note is the great selection of their menu with entrees, soups and salads. Its address is 269 Greenwood Avenue like the theater. They are open Monday – Saturday from 5-10pm.

shoeshoe14
shoeshoe14 on February 1, 2005 at 5:33 pm

I forgot to add it was not listed in the 1975 Directory. In the 1980 Directory, it’s first listed as Bethel Cinema.

shoeshoe14
shoeshoe14 on February 1, 2005 at 5:31 pm

Correction to the Jerry Lewis incarnation. It was listed in the 1973 City of Danbury Directory as the Jerry Lewis Cinema on Greenwood Avenue.

shoeshoe14
shoeshoe14 on January 26, 2005 at 8:15 pm

The Emerald City Cafe adjoining the cinema closed down 3 months ago. Paul Schulyer, owner of Bethel Cinema has just bought the cafe and they are doing renovations. My friend just told me this info and that he’s the new cafe manager. it should be open soon. the marquee was supposed to be a brand new one a few weeks ago but it’s still down.

shoeshoe14
shoeshoe14 on January 16, 2005 at 10:36 am

This is weird. I sent in Bethel Cinema last week, and a few days ago it wasn’t there and i emailed the site for help and they had no recollection of it recently. Now it’s back on here by someone else. Anyway, i have frequented this place for a long time and can give the more than exact lowdowns of this gem as i’m friends with the owner and general manager.

It opened in the 1960s and first started as a Jerry Lewis Theater, then became a regular theater, then a Bright Clouds Ministry Church for 1 year, then a porn theater and in the late 80s/early 90s became its present incarnation. It’s now independently-owned by Paul Schuyler.

It’s not really a multiplex in that sense of the word. One theater has 100 seats, the remaining 3 have 80-90 seats and no center aisles in either of them. Sound quality is great. The snack stand is yuppified but has great selection. Next door used to be the Emerald City Cafe which offered 2 tickets with each entree, but 2 months ago they just closed down. Bethel Cinema has acquired it and will be making a cafe out of it for moviegoers.

Not only do they show independent films, but also foreign and mainstream movies (usually 1 of the 4 theatres). They also host weekly birthday parties. Usually on the sign from the road next detailing movies, there’s a happy birthday shoutout. They sign is not there as has been for the month of January as they are getting a newer one.

The greatest thing about them is they are known in the state as being the most successful independently-run theatres in close proximity to a megaplex (Loews in Danbury). This place is always packed.

They have great specials like Monday, 2 for 1 ladies nights, a weekly commentary before the films on Tuesday by a local guy, forgot his name and many other great deals. They have no website but they have a yahoogroup at http://movies.groups.yahoo.com/group/bethelcinema/

Their address is 269 Greenwood Avenue (Route 302), Bethel, CT 06801