Santa Fe’s Violet Crown Cinema announced today that it will at long last open its doors to the public starting this Friday, May 7. Following more than a year shuttered, the Railyard multiplex, restaurant and taproom had phased to its proprietary RSVP Cinema system whereby moviegoers could rent auditoriums for private viewings, but owner Bill Banowsky tells SFR the theater will now return to some semblance of normalcy—though still socially distanced and at a reduced capacity.
“Our whole team’s excited. It’s been more than a year since we opened our cinemas to public screenings, and we really think and feel like we are ready,” Banowsky says. “Our team is prepared, the building has never been in better shape and we think the movies that are going to start coming out of the distribution system are going to be really exciting for people. They’re going to have a chance to go out and enjoy an out-of-home entertainment experience like they used to.”
Banowsky adds that Violet Crown’s safety and cleaning protocols have been updated across the board, including longer downtime between screenings for multiple daily deep cleans, a more effective HVAC system and extra training for the crew. Additionally, he says, the theater has obtained better cleaning equipment and implemented an electrostatic disinfectant spray for deep cleaning that is similar to what the airline industry uses to sanitize its planes.
“Instead of cleaning the auditoriums in a detailed manner at the end of the day as the cinema industry has historically done, we now deep clean between every show,” he explains. “At the end of the day, we won’t have a midnight crew from a janitorial company come in to clean the auditoriums—they’ll already be clean.”
Violet Crown will reopen with a full slate of recently released films, including Mortal Kombat, Guy Ritchie’s Wrath of Man, the anime Demon Slayer: Mugen Train, recent Oscar-winning film Nomadland with Frances McDormand and Sundance Film festival darling documentary Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street. The RSVP Cinema program will continue along with its more than 100 screening options, and the food and beverage program will resume—including a newly revamped sourdough pizza menu developed in part with Tender Fire Kitchen’s Ben Crosky and Violet Crown General Manager Peter Grendle—plus more than two dozen beers on tap.
Seating for public showings will top out at 33% of an auditorium’s maximum capacity, and masks, social distancing and other COVID-safe protocols will remain in place for the duration of the pandemic. Much of Violet Crown’s original staff returned to their jobs as well, according to Banowsky, though the theater is also actively hiring to replace those who have moved on to other employment during the pandemic.
“The hardest thing about reopening this business, and it’s the same thing we’ve learned from our friends who operate restaurants, is that it’s hard to find good people, but we’re really fortunate in Santa Fe that we’ve always had a terrific crew, even before COVID-19,” he says. “Most of the people we have now are the same employees, but we’re in the market for people who want to work for Violet Crown, and we offer $15 minimum wage.”
Tickets for upcoming screenings are on sale now.