WILLMAR — A planned remodeling of the Golden Ticket Kandi 6 in Willmar has been delayed due to factories being shut down in China, which has been hit hard by the coronavirus.
According to John Bloemeke, president of Golden Ticket Cinemas which owns the Willmar theater, new luxury seats were ordered in two waves, with plans to finish the remodeling soon afterward.
But after the first wave arrived in Willmar and a part to install the seats was needed, the company was notified that the factories in China had been shut down in response to the spread of the COVID-19 respiratory disease.
“So that virus is impacting us a little bit, but we were able to get two auditoriums done,” which includes the new seats and new carpeting, Bloemeke said.
A second wave of seats to fill the other four auditoriums is also delayed because of the factory shutdowns.
Bloemeke, when interviewed last week, said he is hopeful, after reading that Starbucks had begun reopening in China, that the factories will reopen soon.
“So I can just be positive about it,” Bloemeke said.
The World Health Organization on Monday reported that more than 70 percent of the 80,000 reported cases of the disease in China have recovered and been discharged.
Bloemeke said he’s hopeful the theater can be fully remodeled by the summer movie season.
Along with the new reclining seats, the renovation will include new carpeting, repainting and new kitchen equipment for an expanded menu.
Theatergoers will have new options including pizza, burgers and milkshakes that can be delivered to their seats.
“I think (the remodeling is) long overdue and the seats there now, whereas they're not necessarily uncomfortable, they're not the way the industry is headed and it's just a natural evolution to keep the theater viable and thriving for years to come,” Bloemeke said.
The theater will stay open throughout the remodeling, with one auditorium shut down at a time, and customers are able to enjoy the remodeled auditoriums as they are finished.
The full kitchen, delivery to your seat and reclining seats are part of Golden Ticket’s push to fully equip their seven locations.
“The model of our company is to bring large-market amenities to small-market theaters and just breathe new life into these older theaters that historically have very loyal moviegoers,” Bloemeke said. “They just haven't evolved over the years like other theaters have.”
Two years ago, the company purchased the theater from AMC Theaters and had planned on updating the seats then, but the vendor went bankrupt. While not a critical blow to the company, it did cause a delay in the final update for the theater.
“The seats are going to be a game changer, and it's always very rewarding to see the customers come in there and see the seats for the first time and enjoy a movie,” Bloemeke said.