Four Brothers Drive-In Theater seeks to be declared ‘essential’ business by the state and allowed to open
Photo by Robert Riemer

Four Brothers Drive-In Theater seeks to be declared ‘essential’ business by the state and allowed to open

AMENIA — Since a State of Emergency was declared for the evolving coronavirus health crisis, non-essential businesses in New York state have closed per the governor’s orders and essential businesses have been adjusting their operations and workforce in conjunction with state guidelines. Since restaurants were identified as essential businesses, but only for take-out or delivery service, Four Brothers Pizza Inn, located at 4957 Route 22 in Amenia, has remained open. The restaurant’s adjoining drive-in movie theater, though, has not as theaters were declared non-essential. 

John Stefanopoulos, one of the owners of Four Brothers, therefore submitted a waiver to the state to request his Drive-In Theater be deemed essential.

In terms of how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted his family’s business, Stefanopoulos said they’ve been “heavily impacted, as expected.” Along with adjusting their hours, he said they’ve had to downsize and lay off some employees. Under normal circumstances, Four Brothers hires a number employees this time of year for its busier season. Though the restaurant typically employs between 60 and 70 workers, there are now just 15 employees working at the Amenia restaurant. 

However, Stefanopoulos said their employees and the local community are a priority and that his family is “worrying about ourselves lastly. It’s a chain reaction that’s affected everything, so we’re doing what we can to stay afloat and keep our employees busy and our community fed.”

As for the drive-in theater established next to the restaurant, Stefanopoulos said it’s unique because it could be fully automated. Apart from using the restrooms, he said spectators wouldn’t need to exit their vehicles to enjoy the theater, adding they could phone in if they needed to use the restrooms and then the theater’s employees would check to make sure the bathrooms are sanitized. Precautions would be in place to make sure there’s enough distance between parked cars and the entire theater system would be automated.

“It’s super unique in the way we’re set up,” Stefanopoulos said, “but it’s also super unique in the way that we can offer entertainment during this time. We are also part of the restaurant that is able to do takeout. In a sense, we’re safer than any other business open right now.”

Stefanopoulos submitted the waiver to Empire State Development on the New York State website, www.eds.ny.gov, on Monday, March 23. He had not received a reply as of presstime.

If deemed essential, Stefanopoulos said his family plans to adjust the theater’s schedule, advertise its opening to the public, take all necessary precautions and follow all protocols. If the application is rejected, he said they’ll do their best to plan ahead and create an exciting season once they’re able to re-open.

“Our concern is providing some mental stimulation for entertainment for our customers and we think we’re doing it in a safe and respectful way, given the current world situation,” Stefanopoulos said.

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