The Herald-Times of Bloomington IN just came out with an article (subscription required) that says the 62-year-old Starlite Drive-In has been sold to Brent Barnhart, owner of KJB Theaters, a small indoor theater group.
This is Barnhart’s first drive-in, but he said he got a better sense of the way Starlite operates by shadowing the former owners, Mark and Yvonne Freeman, last summer. Drive-ins emphasize meals more than indoor theaters, for example. Barnhart said he’d keep most things about the same, probably, and that he’s offered jobs to returning employees. The Starlite should reopen for the 2017 season “early this spring”.
According to property records, when the old owners flipped the drive-in after owning it less than three years, their $131k investment more than doubled to $300k. That could be the take-home message for 21st century drive-in owners: You don’t need to hope that the land will be worth more later because the drive-in theater itself might be worth more.