The Sunset Drive-In, San Luis Obispo’s only drive-in movie theater since 1950, has seen some changes in business this year.

Operations manager Martin Smith said that the amount of movie-goers at the theatre increased this season. 

“Right now, there’s been an increase in our winter business because of the fact that there is nothing else to do,” Smith said.

More families and couples are coming in for date nights, according to Smith.

Despite an increase in movie-goers this season, Sunset Drive-In has faced several challenges since the start of COVID-19.

“I’d rather have it like it used to be, but we’re existing,” owner of L&R Theatres Larry Rodkey said.

One of these challenges is getting new movies that they can show, as production has been put on hold from COVID-19, according to Smith. Another challenge has been finding employees. 

“We’ve been fortunate to be steady and open,” Smith said. “I can’t really say that ‘oh yeah, we’re making a killing and this has been great for us’ — it hasn’t.”

Smith said that streaming services like Disney+ have limited what the drive-in can show.

“Right now, we’re just trying to get any movies that they’ll release that looks like it’s got some content, that’s good for the clientele that we have,” Smith said. “We’re getting limited now, it’s running out.”

Some of the more successful showings have been “Goonies” and “ET,” along with other older classics, according to Smith.

“They’re just your family movies and they don’t make a lot of good family movies anymore,” Smith said. “It really is just people just want to get out and do something.”

In accordance with COVID-19 guidelines, the snack bar is limited to those who are ordering food, masks are required, hand sanitizing stations are available and line spaces are placed six feet apart, according to Smith. 

“We’re doing the best we can with what we have to offer,” Smith said.

Political science junior Mark Moreno, who went to see “Coco” with a friend, said his overall experience was great. 

“I mean in terms of COVID and stuff we legit didn’t come into contact with anybody, except for buying the tickets and they were wearing masks so that was fine,” Moreno said. 

He said he particularly enjoyed that each car was more spaced out than usual.

“At least all the staff members and everybody I saw there was very good at wearing masks and everything,” Moreno said. “It just all seemed like it was all working really well with the new restrictions in place.”

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