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Monday, Aug. 8, 2022

VW Cinemas owners planning big addition

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent editor

If all goes according to plan, more entertainment options will be offered locally sometime in 2023.

A restaurant/sports bar will be added to Van Wert Cinemas on Lincoln Highway, along with a modern arcade. Donna Saunders, who owns the theater with her husband Rod, confirmed plans for the 10,000 square foot addition on Thursday.

The owners of Van Wert Cinemas want to add a 10,000 square foot restaurant/sports bar and arcade to the existing facility on Lincoln Highway. Scott Truxell/Van Wert independent

“We had a consultant come to town and do an extensive marketing review of what’s already available in the area for entertainment options and he highly recommended that we add a restaurant with a bar and a 40-piece arcade,” Saunders explained. “This is not going to be an arcade with pinball machines and old-fashioned stuff, it’s going be virtual reality pieces and things with hydraulics that move around. There’s going to be something for everybody.”

“It’ll be a sports themed restaurant and bar so people can come in and if dad wants to watch a game on the big screen in the sports bar, he can have some chicken wings while his wife and daughter go into the theater to see a ‘chick flick,’ she continued. “Maybe he has a son who wants to play some video games, so the whole family can go to this one place and be together, yet do their own thing and have fun doing it.”

While the six-screen theater itself won’t expand, substantial improvements have been made dating back to the height of COVID-19, including luxury seating throughout the cinema and the recent addition of laser projectors and Dolby ATMOS sound systems in two of the cinemas.

The addition of the restaurant/sports bar and arcade to the existing building will extend out to the area that was formerly the drive-in. Saunders said the box office that currently stands in that area will come down and parking will be expanded to accommodate more cars. She also noted the addition will result in new jobs, including a restaurant manager, servers and an arcade manager.

As far as a timeline, Saunders said while she would like to see the expansion complete by Christmas, it will likely take longer.

“There are supply chain issues with the steel girders they need to use and there’s a huge backlog on the walk-in coolers and freezers we would need for the restaurant,” Saunders stated. “I’m guessing it’s going to be 2023 but what month I have no idea.”

The former drive-in box office will come down.

Saunders and her husband plan to meet soon with the Pleasant Township trustees to share more information about their plans and submit the necessary permit paperwork, along with a variance request.

“We met with the trustees on one occasion, but only one trustee was there and the zoning inspector was there,” Saunders said. “I want to present all of these drawings to all of them and get their feedback on that. Once they’ve seen the drawings I’ll feel comfortable sharing more of the information.”

“We know how the building is going to look on the inside and outside, we have renderings, we have site plans and the layout inside,” she added.

In addition, Saunders has applied for a liquor license with the Ohio Division of Liquor Control. Online records show the application is pending and will require passage by voters in the affected area of Pleasant Township. The issue is expected to be on the November ballot.

In addition to Van Wert Cinemas, the couple owns Van-Del Drive-In, a drive-in in Liberty Center and a historic three-screen theater in Bryan.

POSTED: 05/13/22 at 3:41 am. FILED UNDER: News