Still a ‘Main’ attraction to many

By on March 9, 2016

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It’s almost like stepping into a vintage movie theater, with its retro neon lights, red velvet seats and art deco accents.

It’s no wonder. Ephrata Main Theatre has its origins in the age of movies — the 1930s!

Though thoroughly modernized, including its still recent addition of the digital format, Ephrata’s Main Street theater still holds a special place in many local hearts.

“It’s my favorite place to see a movie,” said Mark Martin of New Holland. “I like the leg room, the seats are really comfortable and the picture is great. It’s just as good, maybe better, than other theaters.”

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For Mike and Beaty Miller of Ephrata, convenience is a big factor. They attended the opening matinee of Disney’s “Zootopia” on Saturday with their grandchildren. Lots of them.

“The price is great, just $8,” said Miller, who was also purchasing popcorn, sodas and other treats for the family. “It’s affordable and fun.”

Back in 1938, Main Theatre opened at 124 E. Main St. in Ephrata. It was the place to see movie stars like Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, Cary Grant and Clark Gable. It was owned and operated by the Stiefel Brothers Roxy Theater Circuit. By the 1980s, the glorious Theatre was a fading star, showing second-run movies. Worn and dilapidated, it closed in May 1990.

But there was hope. The Theatre building was purchased by the local Denver and Ephrata Telephone Company. Engineers determined that renovating the theatre would not be possible. A new theatre was included in plans for the new Brossman Business Complex. Many of architectural and design features were preserved. In November 1993, the Main Twin Theatre reopened. One Theatre was called the Grand with a stage for live presentations, while the other is the Roxy, both named after former Ephrata theaters.

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Owners invest in community

The current owners Steve and Karen Brown, who also own Lily’s on Main restaurant on the second floor, have invested in bringing first-run movies to the theatre. Live theatre, music, concerts and special events are performed on stage. In both theaters, state of the art digital projectors and technology bring the highest quality resolution to the big screen.

A quick rundown of theatre food at Main Theatre showed that a kid’s snack pack with popcorn, soda and candy was $6. Popcorn was $4 and up, nachos were also $4. A big soft pretzel was $3. There were all the usual sodas, along with French sodas with fresh fruit flavors.

Not only are the kids happy, but grownups can enjoy a glass of wine, including a selection of chardonnay, pinot grigio, rose and claret. There are also cocktails, like frozen Fifty Shades of Grey Goose, strawberry Margarita and frozen Manhattan. Steve Brown, who is chef and manager at Lily’s on Main, selects the wines and comes up with cocktail ideas.

“There aren’t any other places in the area where you can have wine with your movie,” said Brown. “It just makes it a better experience.”

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Chris Lansing of Reading agrees. She was at the Main Theatre with her children, but recalls having a wonderful time with girlfriends when they came to see “Sex in the City,” with Cosmopolitans, of course.

“It was so much fun. we felt like we were in the movie,” said Lansing. “We went to dinner at Lily’s too and the food was exceptional.”

Deana Wells of Denver said that Main Theatre was by far her favorite movie Theatre. She was with her three children, Haley, Grace and Will. Tickets for all four of them were just $32, compared to at least $40 at other theaters for matinees. That gave them extra money for treats.

“It’s so close and other theaters are $10, $11 or $12 per person,” said Wells, as Haley added that the seats were comfortable and had “lots of room.”

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Pat Snow was at Main Theatre with her grandson Parker. He was very excited about seeing “Zootopia.” Snow liked that it was just five minutes from home, and the price was a great deal. It was just $16 for a grandma-and-grandson outing.

Also showing at Ephrata Main is the story of Easter, “Risen,” which is based on the Bible account of Jesus as he rises from the dead. Typically, the Theatre has a movie for the whole family and a blockbuster hit. Coming up next will be “Batman vs. Superman” and “The Jungle Book.” They also offer Academy Award-winning movies and independent films.

Entertainment variety

There is a great ambiance to the Main Theatre, with its red and gold theme, giving the feeling of the gilded age of movies with a modern vibe. The neon wall lights in the original Theatre were restored and are used in the two new theaters. The original art deco chrome box office has been restored as well.

As Brown points out, there are many other attractions at the Theatre. Coming up on March 17 through 20, Theatre of the Seventh Sister will present “The Irish and How they Got That Way” by Frank McCourt. You’ll swear you hear “Danny Boy” playing in this ideal St. Patrick’s Day event.

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From the Irish to the Amish, be sure to enjoys the unique humor of Raymond the Amish on Saturday, March 12. You won’t believe how funny this Amish comic can be, and tickets are just $10.

That’s not all. On Saturday, the happy couple Christina and Sean tied the knot at Lily’s and Ephrata Main Theatre. It was quite a day, with gorgeous flowers, a lovely bride, joyful friends and family, wonderful food and a great celebration. Weddings at the Ephrata Main Theatre and Lily’s on Main add a unique flair to your special day. With accommodations up to 200, this is the place for your wedding reception and the Grand Theatre puts your ceremony on center stage. If you have always wanted to see your name in lights, here’s your chance. They put it up on the marquee for all too see!

“We have all sorts of events, like the Miss Lancaster County Pageant, school project presentations and our Oscar Awards event. There is always something happening,” said Brown, adding that the facilities are available to meet the needs of the community.

That was the legacy of Anne Brossman Sweigart, who wanted to restore the Theatre and continue the tradition of Ephrata Main as downtown Ephrata’s entertainment center.

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Dinner and a ….

Then there is Lily’s, the restaurant named for Brown’s oldest daughter. She works there now, all grown up. The menu at Lily’s ranges from appetizers like Quail Wellington and Olivia’s Caesar Salad, to dinners like Grilled Meatloaf with tomato onion gravy and Crab-Stuffed Trout with Spanish rice pilaf. For Easter, the springtime menu features Easter Eggs stuffed with smoked salmon, crab and avocado, Easter Ham with peach bourbon glaze and Pork and Sea Scallops with huckleberry sauce.

“It’s my very favorite restaurant in the area,” said Elaine Young of Lancaster. “The food is wonderful and the setting, well, it’s just so pretty.”

Nine-year-old Grace Wells agreed, although her preference was the buttery popcorn at the Theatre.

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“The food is great!” she said, as she got ready to watch “Zootopia” with her family.

For more information on Lily’s or Ephrata Main Theatre, check the website at lilysonmain.com or call 738-2711 for dinner or special events reservations.

Laura Knowles is a correspondent for The Lititz Record.

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