The CEO of Flix Brewhouse is “highly confident” the cinema theater will reopen its Carmel location, but it could be months before that happens.
Allan Reagan, CEO of Flix Brewhouse Companies, said he received notice July 30 that the theater chain should receive COVID-19 relief funding through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program, but the amount is still to be determined. He expects to receive the funds 10 to 45 days after he is notified of the total.
Receipt of the funds is the first step in what could be a long road to reopening.
“To temper expectations, once we have a grant award in hand we’ll need to square up in some fashion with the Carmel landlord on a basis that is realistic going forward, which requires a fair amount of negotiating and lawyering,” Reagan said. “Once that occurs it will take us 45 to 60 days to rehire, retrain, repair equipment that has been sitting idle for almost a year, brew beer, book movies, etc.”
Flix applied for the SVOG funds within two hours of the program becoming available in April, Reagan said. The company suffered a loss of 90 percent or more of gross revenue between April and December 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, making it a first priority applicant that was supposed to have its information processed within the first two weeks of the program.
Reagan has been frustrated by the slow pace of the SBA’s emergency program designed to help live venue operators, theatrical producers, museum operators, motion picture theater operators and others survive the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on their industries.
“Because this ‘emergency relief’ program has instead turned into the ‘Nightmare on 116th Street,’ we are dead in the water until we get funded,” Reagan said. “And then after that we must negotiate revised lease terms with the large New York City-based real estate investment trust that owns Merchants Square and is not known for entrepreneurial flexibility.”
The theater at 2206 E. 116th St. is in a building owned by RPT Realty. A spokesperson for RPT Realty stated that the company does not have information about the situation to share at this time.
According to the SBA’s website, as of July 26 the agency had notified 83 percent of SVOG applicants who applied within the first 60 days of the program of its funding decision. The SBA had come to a decision on eligibility for 14 percent of applicants that had not received an answer, with three percent, or 419 cases, still under review.
Current has reached out to the SBA for comment.
Flix Brewhouse is based in Round Rock, Texas, where it opened its first location in 2011. The Carmel theater was the company’s third, opening in April 2015. Of its 10 theaters, three reopened approximately a month ago thanks to landlords willing to work on a percentage rent basis temporarily, Regan said. A fourth theater is expected to reopen next weekend.
Three Carmel-based organizations have received SVOG funding: the Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre ($415,569); the Carmel Symphony Orchestra ($346,651); and The Center for the Performing Arts (nearly $1.3 million).