VANCOUVER, Wash. – For years, downtown Vancouver has struggled economically. "For Sale" and "For Lease" signs have been more common as more businesses had to shut their doors.
The Kiggins Theatre that opened in 1927 has tried to reinvent itself a few times in recent years just to stay open. And the theater's manager, Dan Wyatt, wants the state to change the way the theater serves alcohol so it doesn't have to close its curtain.
You can buy beer and wine at the smaller one- and two-screen theaters in the state of Washington. And they sell them at Kiggins. But the difference is you have to keep the alcohol away from the movie screen. Essentially, you can have a bar; you can have a theater, but not both in the same room.
Wyatt says if patrons could take their drinks to their theater seats – with their family there – he'd see 20 to 30 percent more business. And not just for him.
"They say revitalization happens with entertainment. Where there's a movie theater, some sort of draw, something for people to do, the other businesses feed off that as well," Wyatt said.
He's frustrated that the law won't even let him set aside special times for "adults only" events in the theater.
"We're not allowed to have the cut-off time. The big concern is the lights are dim in the auditorium, but if there are no minors in the building, I'm not sure why that's a problem," Wyatt said.
Theater operators would like Washington's law to be more like Oregon's.
"The McMenamins definitely set the standard and kind of raised the level of expectations of what everybody wants when they go to a movie," said Wyatt.
Last year two local legislators tried to change the law and introduced a bill that got through the House but not the Senate. They'll try again in 2013.