By Clarence Plank: PNT staff writer
It’s curtains today for the Tower Twin Theatre.
After years of entertaining Portales residents, the city’s only movie theater is closing its doors due to cooling troubles.
Russell Allen, vice president of operations for Allen Theatres and Tower owner, said the air conditioning system just stopped working.
“Replacement cost for the air conditioning is about 50 percent of the value of the building,” Allen said. “With the current cash flow of the business, it would take another five years to try to recoup our money out of it.”
So, he said, the decision was made to close the business.
The original Tower Theatre burned in 1978, but was replaced with the current building later that year. Allen Theatres bought it in 1990 from United Artists and 10 years ago Tower Twin was closed for two to three years for remodeling.
Allen said the company staff is coming in today to talk to theater employees about the closing.
Megan Lyons, a seven-month employee, was taken by surprise.
“It is not fair they didn’t give us a two-week notice,” Lyons said. “I’m trying to save up for college in the fall, I could have been out looking for a job or have one on the back burner.”
Allen said the company will give employees their final checks and tell them thank you.
“There is just not enough population in Portales to warrant the cost and the investment it would take to get a new theater built,” Allen said. “The cost and the investment to get a new theater built is somewhere in the $2 million range, and there is no way the population…can support that kind of debt service.”
Allen also said improvements to the Allen Theater chain at North Plains Cinema in Clovis has people willing to travel to see a movie.
Allen said he appreciates the support in Portales and he regrets the decision was made by an expensive repair.
Philip Harrell, theater employee, said it was “completely ridiculous” Allen Theatres was letting employees go.
Harrell was working to save money to move to Denver.
“Now I’m going to have an even harder time finding a job,” Harrell said. “I’m going to back to Denver in at least a month or, so. I have to try and find someone who can hire me.”
Harrell said he and the other employees figured the air conditioner was the reason why the Allens would shut the theater down. Harrell said Steven Cathey and he, have been loyal employees and the company gave them just one day’s notice about the closing.
Cathey said he and the other employees plan to seat the customers at the theater today like always.
The theater will run through all scheduled shows today.
Showtimes for last run:
Terminator: Salvation, Rated R
11:50 a.m., 2:20 p.m., 4:50 p.m., 7:30 p.m., and 10 p.m.
12:30 p.m., 2:55 p.m., 5:20 p.m., 7:40 p.m., and 9:55 p.m.