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Small theatre owners seek beer and wine license

Movie theater owners want the Washington legislature to allow them to sell booze (AP image)

You can have a beer at the ball game or a bowling alley and at a bar or restaurant, but not at the movie theatre. Owners of smaller movie houses are asking the Washington legislature to authorize a special liquor license for them.

Operators of small town, independent and historic downtown theatres are asking state lawmakers to create a special theatre beer and wine license (HB 1001) to help them compete. Dan Wyatt Jr. owns Kiggins Theatre in Vancouver, right across the river from Portland where theatre pubs are popular.

“It would help a lot for independent theatres, I’m sure, all around Washington but especially in Vancouver, a border city and give us another source of revenue to compete with the multiplexes,” said Wyatt Jr.

Critics say alcohol is already available in too many, non-traditional places. “We now see sampling or the sale of alcohol at farmer markets, grocery stores, wedding botiques, spas, senior centers and so forth and we think this sends the wrong message to our youth in the sense that it normalizes the use of alcohol,” said Seth Dawson with the Washington Association of Substance Abuse Prevention.

A House committee was told Thursday that there are already rules in place for cinemas with dinner theatre venues. The proposed law would require movie theatres to file an alcohol control plan to keep booze out of the hands of minors.

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