Guelph has had a drive-in theater since at least 1948, but it wasn’t always the Mustang. The Guelph Drive-In sat on the north side of town until it was razed to make way for a shopping center around 1958. As the Waterloo Region Record put it, “The closing of the Guelph Drive-In created a business opportunity elsewhere.”
In 1959 Charles Jemmett built the JEM Drive-In northeast of town. (The name was based on his family name and was always in all-caps.) The JEM had the same capacity, about 400 cars, as the Guelph, so that drive-in must have been doing well enough.
According to a Kitchener Waterloo Record article quoted at length by a commenter on Cinema Treasures, “Sometime in the late 1960s, Charles Jemmett sold the JEM Drive-In to Premier Operating Corp. of Toronto and retired. Premier renamed it the Mustang and later sold it to Sunset Cinema Inc., which continues to operate it today.”
Blogger Steven Petric wrote, “The success at the Mustang drive in can be pointed to the strategy of bring back families to the drive-in by running only the latest movies and avoiding R-rated slashers and horror flicks. Plus kicking out the drinkers and the trouble makers”.
How did the Mustang switch to attracting families? Petric wrote that a Mustang article in the Guelph Mercury newspaper was one example of how to lure the right crowd. “Families don’t have to worry about babysitting,” it said. “If the kids are tired, bring your pillows, and sleep in the vehicle, and smokers, come one, come all. Then there’s the sunsets. You won’t get that anywhere else.”
Miles Today / Total: 58 / 27695 (rounded to the nearest mile)
Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: The Hitman’s Bodyguard / 147
Nearby Restaurant: I really wanted to go back to another great Mandarin buffet, but I think I ought to avoid duplicating experiences in these regional chains. Instead I enjoyed a wood oven pizza at Buon Gusto. I really love a thin crust like on the pies here, and a meat-free margherita is at least a little healthier to eat. The local Royal City Saison beer is on tap. Good times!
Where I Virtually Stayed: Sure, it’s just another Hampton Inn, but that always represents a pretty safe bet for me. The one in Guelph has a heated salt water pool, which is something I don’t see every day. Guest laundry facilities, an indoor theater next door (useful during winter months), and a typically solid breakfast. Add a clean, comfortable room with all the amenities, and that’s why I choose Hampton a lot.
Only in Guelph: Just three years ago, the latest piece of artwork on the University of Guelph campus was unveiled. It’s a huge statue of a sleeping gryphon, the mythical mascot of the school’s sports teams. At least the gryphon is, not the sleeping part.
Next stop: Hanover Drive-In Theatre, Hanover ON.