What Returning to Normal Looks Like

A reboot for businesses hardest hit by the pandemic.

A lot of businesses have suffered throughout the pandemic, but one of the hardest hit has been movie theaters. Just about everything that makes them an enjoyable experience has also made them a virtual non-starter, via public health guidelines and consumer concerns, during this global health crisis. They’re indoors (except for the few remaining drive-ins), they’re designed to host large gatherings in close quarters, and they’re largely dependent on Hollywood (where film production and distribution has been met with huge setbacks).

Sadly, a number of theaters haven’t survived, including some big chains. And many of those that did are still fretting over their future in an industry that was in steady decline even before any of us had ever heard of COVID-19.

But the highly effective and widely distributed coronavirus vaccines are proving to be a huge game-changer on many fronts. About 150 million Americans have now received at least one dose, and last week, the U.S. positivity rate of the virus was at its lowest point of the entire pandemic. Normalcy is on the horizon, and if those who remain skeptical of the vaccines have a change of heart and mind, and get on board, the pre-pandemic days will return even sooner.

Some images that struck me the other day came from the reopening of Disneyland in California, after being shut down for 13 months.

Visitors were emotional — very emotional from getting to do something they love and hadn’t been able to in over a year. A lot of people (mostly online) mocked the images and sentiments, but not me. Though I don’t personally have an emotional attachment to theme parks, I do have one to genuine displays of joy, gratitude, and relief. And I found myself very happy for these people, including the employees returning to work.

As with amusement parks, movie theaters are hoping for that same big shot in the arm (both metaphorically and literally). A re-opening that I’m particularly excited about is The Kress Cinema and Lounge, a local, independent theater and full-service bar that I have a particular affection for.

Truth be told, I love pretty much everything about The Kress.

I love its local setting in a renovated historical building in the heart of Downtown Greeley (only a twelve-minute drive from my home).

I love its style — its rich, sophisticated ambiance and decor.

I love its uniqueness, including a discreet, retro, speakeasy bar tucked away in its basement (and I don’t even drink).

I love their screenings of classic and seasonal films… in addition to the new releases.

I love that you can rent out their fireplace lounge for events, like I’ve done for all of my book launch parties (and plan to do again for “Retribution”); they are a ton of fun.

I love that you can also rent out their auditoriums, as I did for my wife Sarah’s 40th birthday, when we invited a few dozen friends for a private (and amusingly interactive) screening of her all-time favorite flick, Dirty Dancing. In fact, I’d call it one of my more shining moments as a husband.

I love unexpectedly running into friends at a late-night show, and sharing a booth (with a table made from a large film reel) in the back of the theater.

I love that in 2012, when the theater was in danger of going out of business due to Hollywood production companies requiring very expensive digital upgrades to projection equipment, individuals in the community stepped up and paid for those upgrades — an effort I was happy to be part of.

I also love the friendliness and attentiveness of the people who work there, as well as their humor… even in times of gloom.

One more thing that I love: the Kress, after a few short-lived attempts last year, is finally opening back up this Friday (which just happens to be the same weekend that I’ll be two weeks past my second vaccine shot). I’m very excited.

While my family and I were very supportive of local businesses during their drastically scaled back operations over the last 14 months, including buying gift certificates from places like The Kress, I’m looking forward to becoming a more frequent patron this year than I was even before the pandemic. I’ve missed such experiences, and came to realize just how much I’d taken them for granted up until March of 2020.

It’s about time to celebrate, and simultaneously help drive struggling community businesses back to profitability and prominence. The best way to do that is to get yourself fully vaccinated, and then get out there and live your best life at your favorite spots (while respectfully complying with whatever restrictions they still have in place). It’ll be a win-win for everyone as conditions continue to improve.

And if you’re ever passing through Greeley, Colorado, make sure you check out The Kress. It’s truly a special venue.

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Is there a favorite business that you’ve sorely missed? Tell me about it in the comment section below, or in an email.


Random Thought


Obligatory Dog Shot

“When can I move?”


Featured Vinyl

Queensrÿche turned lots of heads in 1988 with their iconic concept album, Operation: Mindcrime. Their follow-up, Empire, with its enormous hit single “Silent Lucidity,” solidified the Seattle band as a mainstream success story.

But back in the early 1980s, Queensrÿche (known then as The Mob) was a cover band searching for a music label that would give their demo tape (of four original metal songs) a listen. In 1983, the band’s management agency ultimately released a self-titled EP of those songs through an independent label… and that album is this week’s featured vinyl.

The EP provides a raw taste of the Queensrÿche’s early talent (including Geoff Tate’s impressive vocals), and also reveals where their name came from. Since “The Mob” was already in use, the band renamed themselves after one of the songs on the EP: “Queen of the Reich.”

The most recognizable song off the record is probably “The Lady Wore Black,” which the band continued to perform in concerts at the height of their success. It’s also the most representative of the sound they would later pursue into stardom.

It’s a great listen.


That’s all for now. Thanks for reading today’s Daly Grind.

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Also, if you’re not caught up on my Sean Coleman Thrillers, you can pick the entire series up at a great price on Amazon. And if you’re interested in signed, personalized copies of my books, you can order them directly from my website.

Take care. And I’ll talk to you soon!