West Theatre’s new owners revealed as Craig locals
When the West Theatre showed its first film in April 1939, a report in the Craig Empire Courier from Dec. 14, 1938 said then-owner John Greve showed “Never Say Die” with Martha Raye and Bob Hope. Mr. M. P. Foster was the manager.
Now, 80 years later, Craig’s West Theatre is under new owners who have deep, local roots.
Locals Dale and Andrea Camp have partnered with Masterworks Mechanical owners Amy and Victor Updike — finalizing their purchase of the theatre this week after the recent death of its elderly owner.
“I think we actually pick up our info from the title company today,” Andrea Camp — who also sits on Craig City Council — said in an interview Thursday.
The Camps and Updikes finalized the deal this week.
“We closed yesterday and we’re trying to reopen right away,” Amy Updike said. “There’s a lot of work that needs to be done on that theatre.”
Updike said this first set of quick renovations will include remodeled bathrooms, a rearranged snack bar area, and new heating and air conditioning.
“Our intent is to try and be open by Nov. 1,” Andrea said.
Going forward, the Camps and Updikes have other projects in the works.
“We are also working on getting the sign refurbished and we have one bid on that,” Andrea said. “It’s so visible. It’s one of the first things people see when they come into town.”
They’d also like to eventually redo the seating, though they’ll likely have to wait until they accrue some more capital.
“That’s another pretty expensive project,” Andrea said. “If you really want to upgrade those seats and make them more modern, that’s going to be a really big expense.”
Though they’d like to expand the menu to offer more food and candy varieties, there’s no plans yet on serving alcohol at the West Theatre. Amy Updike said instead the theatre will try and bring back some classic films.
“We haven’t gotten to those fine details yet,” Amy said of the menu and possible alcohol sales. “We do want to offer more in the snack bar, things like pretzels and nachos and more variety of candy. I don’t know if we will do alcohol at this time. There’s just too much involved in that. We want to offer more showings. We want to offer more matinees during summer and spring breaks, maybe offer some old movies to bring back for folks.”
The owners said all profits from Craig’s theatre will go toward upgrades and renovations over the next few years.
“Hopefully within the next three years we can have it pretty much completely refurbished,” Andrea said.
Amy said they partnered with the Camps to buy the theatre because they wanted to avoid its closure after the recent death of the long-time owner.
“We felt it was important that Craig have a theatre and we didn’t want Craig to have another empty building,” Amy Updike said.
Andrea said they’re excited about what the future holds for Craig’s theatre.
“We’re really excited about the opportunity,” Andrea said. “We really want to continue this historic theatre we’ve had for so many years. I definitely did not want to see it close and have another empty building in town, so I would just encourage all our residents to go out and support it.”
The owners are giving long-time manager Debbie Winder and her family much of the credit for keeping Craig’s theatre open for the community so long.
“We asked her to please stay,” Amy said. “To me, she is the theatre…We wouldn’t have the theatre if it wasn’t for Deb Winder.”
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