By Antonio Hebert
Since its opening this past May, Grand Avenue Theaters has been a big hit with Belton area residents and UMHB students. Boasting six large fully digital screens, a cafe and vintage soda parlor, the theater offers a long-awaited and convenient venue for entertainment.
Prior to the announcement of the theater’s construction, many thought a movie theater was a service that Belton needed.
Business manager Daniel Bucher, a UMHB alumnus, said, “The community has been really pleased. We have gotten so many comments about how they can’t believe this is finally here and how we have needed this for a long time.”
A large number of people in Belton would travel to places like Temple, Killeen, Waco or Austin to take in a movie. Ironically, residents of many Central Texas towns now drive to Belton for a movie.
David Leigh, the theater’s acting general manager, said, “We are having a positive response from neighboring communities with people coming from Killeen, Gatesville, Waco and Austin.”
Aside from native Central Texans, another sector of Belton’s population is happy to have a new theater, the UMHB student body. Many have been to the theater multiple times and are pleased with its convenient location and the five dollar college day begining Tuesday, Aug. 21.
Junior nursing major Taylor Frank was present at the theater’s midnight opening on May 5, the same night The Avengers premiered. She was impressed.
She said, “I think it’s perfect for the small town of Belton. The workers were just so nice. I had a great time.”
Associate Dean of Students and Director of Residence Life Donna Plank arranged an outing to the theater to see The Bourne Legacy.
Plank said, “Belton has needed this for a long time, and I am glad someone finally realized that UMHB students are a large population of people who need things like this right here in Belton and not just in Temple or Austin or Killeen.”
Plank said that more than 70 people attended with her group. She was impressed with how well the staff handled themselves.
“It was great. The theater owner worked with us to make getting in as a group very easy, and we were able to sit together as a group.”
She said the group enjoyed their experience and plan to return.
Two resident assistants who were present for the event were junior accounting major Seth Michaelson and sophomore communication major Wesley Ashton.
Michaelson, a resident assistant in Getty’s Hall, said, “The theater was super clean, and it even smelled nice. The seats were comfy, and the screen was the perfect distance away.”
Ashton, the head resident assistant for Beall Hall, was impressed with the employees.
He said, “The staff was very friendly and super helpful when it came to the reserved seating. It can be a bit confusing trying to get several people seated together when everyone is paying separately, but the staff handled it like pros.”
Aside from the obvious enjoyment that the theater brings to the surrounding area, it generates a positive economic effect. Bucher said approximately 60 jobs have been created. The theater also allows moviegoers’ money to stay within and promote business in Belton.