By Dan McDermott
Warren/Frederick County Report
FRONT ROYAL (May 11, 2020) – Royal Cinemas owner Rick Novak, who has used his theater’s giant marquee to lobby Virginia’s Governor to re-open the state’s businesses, is now setting his sights on a proposal before Front Royal Town Council to offer some businesses financial and other assistance.
Town Council will hold a public hearing on the matter at tonight’s virtual meeting.
Novak’s remarks as prepared for delivery:
Thank you for considering implementing a local approach to economic recovery for our town due to the Covid-19 outbreak and the resulting devastation to businesses!
As you are aware both the Theater and Bowling Center were forced to close due to Governor Northam’s Executive order 53 in response to the Covid-19 Pandemic.
We are urging you to adopt the recommendations made by staff!
We are urging you to ACT NOW! DON”T DELAY! It was already difficult to operate in a small town economy. There is not likely huge reserves in most business accounts to survive the 3 month shut down and the inevitable slow recovery that will occur once we reopen due to “Social Distancing” measures and citizens reluctance to come out of their homes. Many businesses will close forever!
In our case at the Royal Cinemas the studios will not release any new movies to the US market until mid-July or when 95% of states are open or not until New York, California and other major cities open due to their playing a key part in the movies financial success.
We have retained all of our staff ( 9 @ Theater and 15 @ Bowling Center ) and paid them 100% during the shutdown! We will retain them when we are allowed to reopen. We were able to do this by not paying our rent for the last 2 months. We don’t anticipate being able to pay June’s as well.
We are facing a dwindling checking account! At the theater we had over $47,000 in that account before the closure. At the bowling center we had $77,000. I reveal that so you might know that we were not teetering on the edge prior to the Pandemic! We plan for the regular ups and downs of the business cycle. Since the closure we have lost over $100,000 in revenue at each business and counting!
According to my Trade associations congress is not considering anything further to assist small business in the short term. Some businesses may take on additional debt to survive through loans offered by SBA. We have as much debt as well can handle responsibly at this point. The improvements that we have done in the last few years have added hundreds of thousands to our bank debt to keep the business competitive with adjoining jurisdictions competitors and offer the citizens of Front Royal entertainment options in our community so they don’t go elsewhere and spend their money.
As you are probably aware businesses do not require much in the way of services. They help to fund community initiatives by being a net positive to taxes through the various tax mechanisms localities use. For this reason I am imploring you to return some of those Tax dollars from the Town Surplus at this time to those business’s that helped fund it!
A draft of the proposed assistance plan was provided to town council April 27 by interim Town Manager Matt Tederick: