WNEP, Scranton PA’s news leader, ran a story last week about the Mahoning Drive-In in nearby Mahoning Township. There’s a dispute there between the Mahoning’s projectionist / manager and a Florida guy who said he wanted to lease-purchase the place. It turns out that a similar scene played out last year at the Tee Pee Drive-In of Sapulpa OK, where things didn’t work out so well.
According to WNEP, Mahoning manager Mike Danchak was contacted by Glen Brannon, who said he wanted to lease and eventually buy the drive-in so it would continue to operate. So this spring a bunch of volunteers helped spruce up the Mahoning. Then Brannan sold 250 season passes for $59 a carload, but Danchak said the drive-in “would go bankrupt” if they accepted those, so he had to buy them back, using up the money he was saving toward buying a digital projector.
The remarkable thing about this story is how closely it matches what happen to the Tee Pee. According to a summary at Route66News.com, the same Florida guy, then going by the name Russ Glen, lease-purchased the Tee Pee, which had closed in 1999. (Speaking of confusing names, you’ll see the name Tee Pee used with and without a space in various news stories. Based on photos of the original sign, I’m going with Tee Pee.)
Soon after Glen entered the picture, a group of volunteers repainted and cleaned up the Tee Pee. The summary says that Glen also set up the TeePee Drive-In Theater Association to accept donations of money and equipment for the theater’s restoration. A month later, one of the volunteers said “the association is suspending the acceptance of donations, and money from the bank account has been removed because of ‘issues with the legitimacy of the nonprofit.'” Glen insisted that everything was perfectly legitimate. And from all accounts, the Tee Pee never reopened.
And that’s about as far as I can go, given that I have no first-hand information about any of these stories. I recommend the Route66News summary, which also includes a lot of links and embedded videos of the Tee Pee saga. For the Mahoning, only time will tell.
I want to set records straight so that people can see. On the Mahoning, i took it over to again help. The theater was going to close. I organized a fund raiser and Mike Danchek opened the bank account and had the funds go in there. My name was never and has never been on a bank account for any theater and i have never recieved any funds on any venture to reopen or in the revamp of any theater. After bringing in named talent and doing a successful campaign and getting the community involved, … I had many plans, i also did the memorials that teh funding platform had. Mr. Danchek used whatever money was there, refunded people, paid for things since he had the funds. It was his ideal to make sure the money stayed where he could get to it and update the theater and it was ok by me so that i did not take it personaly or any one person. The account was in the name of Mahoning Drive In of which only Mike had access to it. The campaign had been running 3 months before opening and all perks were spelled out and Mr. Danchek knew because he was the one getting the funds each and every time a perk was sold. To say it was his funds to get a projector is wrong and not accurate. As to what he was going to do with the funds raised the ideal from the fundraiser was to update and clean up and restore first what needed to be done, restrooms, which i did because they were missing toilets, paint which needed it badly, rock the driveway. All was fine until i left. … I have always done things with legal papers and have never taken anyones money. I have always asked for volunteers to help out and never taken advantage of anyone for anything at anytime. My only fault, is to have a good heart with well meaning intentions to reopen or keep from closing failing theaters. I have had success in 2 of these but if people were to look further, they would find out i was wronged in several instantsess and have taken the blame.
This investigative report says it all, Mr Brannan.