Editor’s note: Our series Enterprising Spirit documents how businesses and workers are managing the economy’s slow return to life after its sudden shutdown in March – and adapting to new challenges ahead.
The floors alone took four weeks.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced the closure of Garland Theater, but when the 75-year-old theater received a Paycheck Protection Program loan, Jasmine Barnes, general manager, brought back her employees to give the movie theater the deepest clean of its lifetime.
“It hasn’t been glamorous work,” Barnes said. “But everybody is just happy to be back around each other again. We have a very close staff. So our first day back, everybody was just so excited to see each other and laughed and joked as they scrubbed.”
At first, progress was slow but satisfying.
“As much as some of the jobs aren’t fun, when you wipe it away and it’s super clean, you’re like, ‘Oh, that’s so good,’ ” said Lindsay Dark, the theater’s shift lead.
This wasn’t the type of work Dark anticipated when she took her job at the Garland, nor was it for Brandon Goe, who normally works the concession stands. But since he used to work in general contracting, the physical labor required wasn’t too hard for him.
“It’s been nice to be working with my co-workers again,” Goe said. “The employees here are really great to be around, and so it’s nice to be around them again. Just working alongside each other, visiting. Haven’t seen people in a while because of the quarantine.”
All of the employees who wanted to come back for the cleanup were hired. A few employees who did not feel safe due to being immunocompromised or living with someone who is stayed home and will be allowed to return when the theater reopens.
Gov. Jay Inslee’s plan allows for theaters to reopen during Phase 3 of his Safe Start plan, though only with 50 viewers at a time. Since the Garland seats 500, Barnes said it’s possible the theater won’t reopen until Phase 4, when gatherings of more than 50 people will be permitted.
She does expect to reopen Bon Bon – the bar attached to the theater – in Phase 3. Barnes anticipates Bon Bon, which has also been subject to a deep clean, will be able to take 12 customers at a time.
“It’s looking a lot cleaner in there, while still maintaining that dark, Prohibition-style feel of a bar, where it’s darker lighting, kind of a darker room, but it’s still a good place to be,” Goe said.
Goe said that once Garland is able to open again, he hopes people will take some time to escape from the real world and take in a movie.
“I hope that people don’t forget about the old Garland Theater,” Goe said. “Come back here for some nostalgia and come watch a good old movie on the screen. It’s great service and the best popcorn in town.”
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