As part of a tour of small businesses, Inc. magazine ran a very nice feature about the Boulevard Drive-In Theatre in Kansas City KS. It described the festivities of June 15, which the mayor proclaimed as Wes Neal Day in honor of the man who bought the drive-in 1984 after working there 30 years. Wes still owns the Boulevard, which is now run by his grandson Brian.
Although the drive-in was profitable most years, its recent turning point was in 2012 when it bought the equipment to become the first drive-in with 4K-resolution digital projection. As someone who saw movies there before and after the conversion, I can tell you that the brightness and clarity are especially important because of the Boulevard’s unusually large, narrow viewing field. It’s constrained by Turkey Creek, whose flooding in 1999 led to the insurance money for digital audio the next year.
It’s no surprise that, with the return of family-friendly feature films, business is booming. “Now when a new Disney or Pixar flick is on the bill, cars may line up three hours in advance to snag a spot,” Inc. wrote. Wes isn’t in it for the movies, but for the people who watch them. “Every weekend,” he says, “I will have a lot of people come up to me. They say they appreciate what we are doing for them.”
There is so much more in that Inc. article, including a few photos, so you know you really should go read it!