Quasar going strong after two years

Quasar Drive-In sign with lighted letter board at twilight
photo from the Quasar Drive-In Facebook page

Embarrassing! After I wrote about the efforts of Jeff and Jenny Karls in building a drive-in in Valley NE, northwest of Omaha, I completely missed the fact that the Quasar Drive-In opened in May 2021. And it took me almost as long to discover that they were featured in a documentary released this year, “Back to the Drive-In”. That movie is a sequel to the 2013 drive-in documentary, “Going Attractions”.

And I really love the Quasar’s old-school style. The Karls salvaged the screen and other equipment from the sad closing of the I-70 Drive-In in Kansas City MO. They spent most of 2020 building, I’m tempted to say, a “real” drive-in with concentric circles of ramps. It looks like the Quasar opened in May 2021, and every indication suggests that it’s doing fine. Just this past Sunday, it held a swap and shop event.

Anyway, that’s about all I’ve got for now. I’m really sorry that I didn’t notice the Quasar’s opening last year. I’ve added it to the Carload active drive-in list.

Video: Quasar Gets OK To Build

The Douglas County (NE) Board gave unanimous approval yesterday to a new drive-in theater northwest of Omaha. The Quasar is the brainchild of Jeff and Jennifer Karls, who said they hope to have it open by Memorial Day 2019.

According to the Omaha World-Herald, the drive-in will have room for about 400 cars watching a single 50-by-100-foot screen. Original plans called for a second screen, but that was shelved after the couple met with opponent Keith Hoffman, whose farm is nearby.

The Karlses told WOWT, Omaha’s News Leader, that the plot of land is perfect because they wanted “country dark, country quiet.” It’s so quiet that the main road to the drive-in is still unpaved, which the couple said they might help fix later.

“It’s been nearly a year since we bought the land, and we’ve been going through this process since the week after we closed. It’s exciting to be able to move forward now,” Jeff said.

A lot of drive-ins have been qualifying for popular movies by shifting them to a second screen after a couple of weeks, still satisfying the contractual minimum. I hope that the Quasar will be able to add that in the future, but for now, it’s just great to hear about another drive-in on its way!

Couple Hopes To Build Drive-In NW Of Omaha

Miniature drive-in theater, as from a model train set

This is definitely NOT a scale model for the Nebraska project, but I’ve been waiting a long time for an excuse to share it. Photo by dididumm from the Carload Flickr pool

The Omaha World-Herald (subscription) reported yesterday that Jenny and Jeff Karls of Fremont NE want to break ground on what would be the Quasar Drive-In on state Highway 36 a few miles east of US Highway 275. They project that to be about a 25-minute drive northwest of Omaha.

The couple are seeking a permit from Douglas County for their plan to convert farmland to a single-screen drive-in, with the possibility of adding a second screen later. This morning, the Douglas County Board postponed a vote on the project until Feb. 6, according to the World-Herald, to give the Karlses time to work with their neighbors about concerns they raised.

“There are more new-construction drive-in theaters being built now than there have been in decades,” Jeff Karls said. The couple told the World-Herald that the idea came to them while watching a movie at a drive-in “in Pittsburgh” (maybe the Dependable in suburban Moon PA?) on their honeymoon in 2013. It looks like Jeff has a Pinterest page titled Quasar Drive In Theater, so you can go there to see some possible inspirations for his project. That appears to be the first time a drive-in theater has used that name, probably because the word “quasar” wasn’t coined until 1964.

The Karlses first tried a site in Gretna only to be turned back by not-in-my-backyard (NIMBY) neighbors and the Gretna Planning Commission. For the current site, that NIMBY neighbor might be Tanner Hoffman, who raised the objections that caused the board to postpone the vote. Board Chairman Chris Rodgers told the Karlses that they aren’t required to make the neighbors happy, but to give negotiation a chance. Let’s hope that the county sees the wisdom of adding a bit of life to this sparsely populated part of the state.