Video: Haar’s Land Is For Sale

More possibly sad news, this time from the venerable Haar’s Drive-In Theatre in Dillsburg PA. A For Sale sign popped up on the site last week, and now I know that it’s news to the drive-in’s owner. I found out thanks to a news video posted by ABC27, Harrisburg’s News Leader.

Vickie Hardy is the third-generation owner of Haar’s, which was built starting in 1952 and opened in June 1953. She told the Patriot-News of Harrisburg, “Sunday a week ago, we were driving by and seeing someone putting a sign up … it was a sign putting the property we are on for sale”.

The York Daily Record had more information about the landowner, Giant Food Stores. “We regularly review our real estate portfolio to ensure it meets strategic priorities, and as a result we made the business decision to sell the property,” said Christopher Brand, director of external communications at Giant. “It is our hope that if a buyer emerges, they will continue to lease the land to Haar’s.”

All three sources said that the lease contained a provision requiring six months’ notice before changes, and the Daily Record said Brand apologized that Haar’s didn’t get that notice. Hardy told the Patriot-News, “They informed me that yes, they were supposed to tell us six months in advance, and they’re sorry they didn’t do that.”

I find this especially troubling considering the expensive recent improvements at Haar’s. The drive-in bought a digital projector in 2013, a new screen in 2016, and Hardy told ABC27 that they had spent thousands more this year.

I’ve got a warm spot in my heart for the Dillsburg drive-in where I concluded my virtual Drive-In-A-Day Odyssey a couple of years ago. It’s a great example of a family-owned drive-in, the kind that won’t close just because their land has become valuable. But if they don’t own that land, well, let’s just hope that Haar’s can find a way to stay in business for many years to come.

Another CA Drive-In Up For Sale

Hi-Way Drive-In marquee at night
Photo from the Hi-Way Drive-In Facebook page

Now this is a worrying trend. Less than a week after Montclair CA’s Mission Tiki Drive-in Theatre announced it had been sold and would soon close, the Hi-Way Drive-In of Santa Maria is listed for sale at a commercial real estate web site.

As reported by KEYT (Santa Barbara’s News Leader), KSBY (San Luis Obispo’s News Leader), and the Tribune of San Luis Obispo, Lee & Associates is listing 8.89 acres of land that happens to have a drive-in on top of it. The price is a bit odd: $3.33 million. The web site says it’s already zoned for senior housing, medical, or office space, and “The City of Santa Maria is also encouraging a potential shift to residential development”.

As I wrote a couple of years ago during my virtual visit there, the Hi-Way opened in 1959. Twenty years later, Bob Gran, who already owned Santa Maria’s older Park Aire Drive-In, bought the Hi-Way.

All three news sources report that they have reached out to the Hi-Way’s owners for more information. Let’s hope that there’s a way to keep this local institution operating as a drive-in for years to come.

Mission Tiki To Close In … 2020

UPDATE: Last week, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin columnist David Allen got a call from the Mission Tiki’s owner. Frank Huttinger, vice president of De Anza Land and Leisure, said the site’s buyer told him, “They’re not going to want to come in here until the third quarter of 2020. So we’re going to continue operating the drive-in and swap meet past the summer of 2020.” So the end is still near, but now patrons will have some warm-weather months to have a last look at this 63-year-old institution.

Well this stinks. The folks who own the popular Mission Tiki Drive-in Theatre of Montclair CA were offered too much money to turn down, so they’ve sold the place. To their credit, they’re keeping the Mission Tiki open through the end of the year to give patrons a chance at one last look at this 63-year-old institution.

As I wrote during my virtual visit in 2017, the Mission Tiki opened as the single-screen Mission Drive-In in 1956, when the city was known as Monte Vista. They replaced the original screen with four new ones in 1975. The name changed to the Mission Tiki in 2006 during major refurbishing, including FM transmitters and Technalight projection system. The parking lot was repaved, the ticket booths were remodeled to look like tiki huts, a Maui statue garden was added, and the concession stand was remodeled to match the tiki theme.

The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin reported the sad news yesterday. The buyer plans a technology-focused business park. City Manager Ed Starr said he was surprised by the sale. “They’ve had lots of interest over the years and they never wanted to sell,” he told the Daily Bulletin.

Now I said it was popular, but Frank Huttinger, vice president of the corporation that owned the Mission Tiki, said that beyond a group of core enthusiasts, attendance was down. “The people who know it really love it,” he said. “We don’t get new customers.”

Huttinger said the last night would be around Christmas, depending on studio-dictated minimum showings. “It’s bittersweet,” he said, “but it was time.”