A nostalgic summer pastime will be available in the Quad-Cities this summer.
Randy and Terri Lorenz and their grown son, Arron, found that a trip to the drive-in movies was a trip indeed — to such places as Maquoketa or Grandview, Iowa.
To bring the experience closer to home for Quad-Citians, they plan to open a two-screen drive-in theater at the west edge of Davenport, just off West Locust Street and north of West Lake Park.
The Blue Grass, Iowa, family plans to open at least one screen this summer. Weather slowed construction, but they hope to have flicks afluttering by June at the Reel to Reel Drive-in.
“It is an experience that has been missing from the Quad-Cities for 20 years,” Arron Lorenz said.
The Reel to Reel will be the first drive-in theater in the Quad-Cities since the Oasis closed in August 1987 on the north end of Davenport. At one time, five drive-ins, from Silvis to Moline to Davenport, operated in the Quad-Cities. Davenport’s Bel-Air, next to the
Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds, closed in August 1986.
The high-water mark for drive-ins was 1958 when 4,058 dotted the American countryside, according to the United Drive-in Theater Owners Association. Last year, 383 drive-ins with 663 screens could be found in the U.S., with 13 in Illinois and four in Iowa.
The Reel to Reel’s location, just north of West Locust Street off 110th Avenue, was the first spot Randy Lorenz considered. They looked at a site in Blue Grass but returned to the eight-acre site just within Davenport’s city limits.
“We wanted something that was in town,” he said. “It is like going to 53rd — in town, it is a quick hop.
“Everyone we’ve talked to has been positive about this.”
The Lorenzes enjoy going to drive-ins, but from their experience know you now have to drive to either Maquoketa or Grandview in Iowa, or Sterling, Galva or Galesburg in Illinois.
“When we’d go to the drive-in, people we talked to would say, ‘If it was closer, we’d come more often,’ ” Randy Lorenz said.
After this first abbreviated season, the Lorenzes plan to run on weekends from April to June, then to a seven-night a week schedule for the summer before going back to weekends after Labor Day until October. Ticket and concession prices haven’t been set.
They promise digital projection on the 25-foot by 60-foot screen with first-run movies on the bill. The theater grounds will be tiered downward by nine feet from the back of the drive-in to the front, Arron Lorenz said.
“We’re going through a lot of effort to make this a place you want to visit and come back to,” he said.
Although they continue to look for investors so they can get the second screen this year, the only thing slowing them down is the weather. Soggy spring days kept construction workers from doing earthmoving and starting construction of the snack bar-projection building, screen and septic system.
They hope to draw car shows to the theater, as well. And because of the projection equipment, they think video game tournaments on the big screen are a possibility.
“We want to have events,” Arron Lorenz said. “We’re open to just about anything.”
Kurt Allemeier can be contacted at (563) 383-2360 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Quad-City area drive-ins
61 Drive-in, Maquoketa, Iowa, tentative opening April 18.
Blue Moonlight Drive-in, Galesburg, Ill., opening date not available.
Galva Autovue Drive-in Theatre, Galva, Ill., opening date not available.
Grandview Drive-in Theater, Grandview, Iowa, opened for season April 4.
Midway Drive-in, Sterling, Ill., opens with a benefit event April 19.
Reel to Reel Drive-in, Davenport, davenportdrivein.com, hopes to open in June.