Independent movie theatre owners are not pleased that the Québec government will not allow them to open their snack bars once cinemas open to show movies again.
Québec Premier François Legault recently announced that theatres will be able to reopen to show movies and bring some entertainment to Quebecers during the upcoming March school break. However, the snack bars will have to remain closed and customers will not be able to bring their own snacks with them.
Danielle Lacasse and Yvon Myner, who own Cinémas Laurentiens in Grenville, are not pleased about the rule. Theatre owners rely on revenue from the snack bar to run their business and earn a living.
“I don’t see why you can’t go to a movie theatre and have a popcorn and a pop,” said Lacasse.
She said that the rule seems unfair since restaurants are again allowing customers to eat inside at tables.
Lacasse said that box office revenues cover the costs of securing the movies that are shown to customers, but snack bar sales are what pays the up to seven employees who work at the theatre.
Both Lacasse and Myner are optimistic that the rules could be relaxed more, depending on how the March Break goes. The theatre has been closed since December due to public health restrictions and is set to open again on February 26.
Lacasse said the theatre’s employees will be returning to work, but not likely all at once due to reduced revenue resulting from the snack bar being closed.
The couple has been relying on a loan to cover their expenses while the theatre has been closed or operations have been reduced.
On Thursday, Premier Legault announced that theatre owners across Québec would be compensated for lost revenue due to snack bars being closed.
Meanwhile, Cinémas Laurentiens is for sale, and has been for several months.
In 2020, Myner celebrated 50 years of owning the theatre and said that the time had come to give someone else the opportunity to own it.
He and Lacasse said that there has been some interest from prospective buyers, but not all of them are interested in continuing to operate a cinema at the site. Some have indicated an interest in redeveloping the property on Rue Principale in Grenville into apartments, or a combination of housing and theatre space.
Cinémas Laurentiens is the only movie theatre located between the Montréal region and Ottawa-Gatineau.