The Daily Republic of Mitchell SD relayed some sad news this week. The Starlite Drive-In will close for good at the end of the 2013 season rather than purchase digital projection equipment. The tiniest ray of hope is that, although owner Jeff Logan doesn’t plan an reopening the Starlite, he will go through his standard winterization process. “We are going to run it right into the end, and then put it into mothballs,” Logan said.
According to the Starlite’s Facebook page, three Mitchell SD men built the Lake Vue Drive-in, which opened in May of 1949. “It was only the third drive-in in South Dakota. In 1963, Rod Hanson bought it. Logan purchased it in 1976 and renamed it the Starlite. He ran it until 1986 when the drive in business went bust with the advent of HBO and home video. He re-opened it in 1993 as drive-ins saw a resurgence.”
Just a few months ago, we reported how the Starlite had upgraded its movie selection. That translated into better business, but it wasn’t enough. “It’s been one of our best years in a long time,” Logan said. “Even when you’re doing as good as we’re doing, when you do the math, the projections aren’t there.”
You should go read The Daily Republic’s original story, plus a rehash with a few more details by the Associated Press. I don’t know why these drive-ins think they can’t survive on classic films and nostalgia. I need to find out more about that.