Lynbrook was buzzing Friday night as Regal Cinemas 13 reopened, ushering in a bit of a return to normalcy.
Mayor Alan Beach said he was pleased that the theater was able to open again, and that he hoped it would help struggling local businesses and restaurants — which, he noted, will benefit from a return to outdoor dining once the weather warms.
“I’m excited,” Beach said of the theater’s reopening. “There were a lot of cars and people in the village Friday. It’s moving in the right direction. We’re going to continue to do the outdoor dining, because that really helped the restaurants. Just doing that gives people the sense that things are getting better.”
Beach said the village board would likely address a return to outdoor dining at its May 3 meeting, and that it would follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines in the hope that a return to outdoor operations, coupled with the reopened theater, would help local businesses. He added that after some of them had issues with teenage bike riders disturbing diners last summer, he anticipated that the board would pass legislation to restrict bicycles on Atlantic Avenue and other dining areas.
The theater reopened on Friday to much fanfare, with showings of “Mortal Combat,” “The Unholy” and “Godzilla vs. Kong.”
“Regal is proud to announce that Lynbrook [Cinemas 13 & RPX theater] reopened Friday,” Regal spokesman Richard Grover said in a statement. “. . . Reopening plans include a wide range of health and safety measures that adhere to the CinemaSafe protocol and guidelines.”
The Lynbrook facility closed in March 2020 as coronavirus pandemic cases climbed, and remained shuttered for seven months. It eventually opened on a limited basis in October, but again closed three weeks later.
Theaters across the state shut down in mid-March last year when Covid-19 cases spiked. Cinemas remained closed despite the gradual reopening of restaurants, bowling alleys and gyms under Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s phased plan. On Oct. 8, Cineworld, Regal Cinemas’ parent company, announced that it would indefinitely suspend operations at all of its 536 theaters in the U.S.
Cuomo announced in mid-October that theaters could begin reopening on Oct. 23 in counties with Covid-19 infection rates of less than 2 percent on a 14-day average that did not have any cluster zones, leading to the Lynbrook theater reopening on Oct. 23. However, on Nov. 11, Regal announced another closure, which lasted more than five months.
Lynbrook’s 83,022- square-foot theater opened in June 2018 after a two-year construction, with the new facility replacing an antiquated theater. The $21 million project included 13 auditoriums, and upon its opening, Beach said he was hopeful that it would generate foot traffic for downtown businesses.
While Beach said a date for outdoor dining would be determined at a later date — possibly at the May 3 board meeting — he said he anticipated that the board would try to bring it back soon to pair it with the theater reopening.
“We’re planning on returning to outdoor dining as soon as possible,” he said, “as long as the weather accommodates it.”