FREMONT – As a co-owner of Paramount Cinema, Keven Christy has faced unique challenges in overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic.

He recognizes that he and other movie theater owners are still fighting an uphill battle.

There are encouraging signs, however, with the Fremont Theater finally opening seven days last week for the first time since the pandemic began in March 2020.

“We started to see a turnaround,” Christy said.

Almost a year ago, Christy was talking about what he had done to get Paramount reopened and ready for customers, with new plexiglass installed, social distancing reminders posted throughout the theater, and sanitizer stations. for hands set up for customers.

Today the plexiglass is still in place, but Christy said everything else is back to normal with theater workers starting to make popcorn and drink refills.

Paramount added high-speed internet and can now also stream movies, Christy said.

Last year, Paramount had to close its doors on March 17 and wait more than three months before reopening with limited hours in June.

Three of Paramount’s theaters were at 40% to 50% of capacity, a nod to social distancing requirements, with a fourth theater closed.

Paramount had only been open on weekends before reverting to a seven-day-a-week schedule last week.

Kristie Bilger, executive director of Downtown Fremont Inc., said business owners and residents alike are excited about the cinema’s return to regular hours.

She said she recently went to see a movie at the Paramount Theater.

“While streaming movies (at home) is convenient, nothing beats a movie with concessions,” Bilger said.

Christy said he also operates a theater in Cleveland and a drive-in in Toledo.

Its Cleveland theater has had its best week since the pandemic began last week, with “Cruella” and “A Quiet Place 2” drawing large crowds.

Christy is hoping that new films in the coming weeks such as “Fast and Furious 9” and “Peter Rabbit 2” will continue the wave of moviegoers in Paramount and other theaters.

The Fremont Theater has around 15 employees and is manageable, said Christy.

He said Paramount has had no problem finding workers this summer, unlike other companies that have struggled with worker shortages.

As he hopes for an increase in business this summer, Christy said he is also asking for a federal grant for the Small Business Administration’s closed site operators to help deal with losses from the pandemic.

According to the SBA, eligible applicants can claim grants equal to 45% of their gross income, with the maximum amount available for a single grant of $ 10 million.

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Twitter: @ DanielCarson7

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