One of Abilene's favorite pastimes is officially under new ownership. Many changes are underway for the Town & Country Drive-In.
In November, owners of the drive-in, Glenda Thornton and Ray Andress said they were going to have to close if they didn't get the money they needed to switch to digital projectors.
The managers launched fundraising efforts to help save their business. Now with news of the sale, are fundraising efforts over? What does the future look like for Abilene's drive-in?
Town and Country now belongs to Martin and Marsha Murray, who own and operate the Galaxy Drive-In theater in Ennis, which is just south of Dallas.
Andress said they sold the Abilene drive-in to the Murray's because Thornton wanted to retire.
"But I wanted to stay in it," said Andress. "I still got about seven years. I want to show movies to Abilene," he said.
"It's hard for mom and pop operations to work out," Andress said. "Yeah, we could have made it work. We could have taken some of our retirement money that we had... at our age, you know, it's better to get a team in here to really make it work," he said.
Andress said the fundraisers brought in about $5,000 and that all the money has been transferred over to the Murray's.
Andress believes the new owners will make the drive-in better than it's ever been.
"He's well-known and he's been around and they're good people and they know what they're doing," said Andress of the Murray's.
The drive-in is still accepting donations, but the account has been closed temporarily to transfer the money to the new owners.
As far as changes being made to the drive-in, there are many:
- Their goal is to have a total of six screens, which will allow them to show 12 movies. They plan on adding two new screens within the next month.
- Kids will be able to go on amusement rides and play on playground equipment.
- Their menu offers new food.
- They're working on making the process of getting food at the concession faster for the customer.
- Speakers will be added to some of the movie screens.
- There will be a double-sided screen (one movie on each side).
- They'll be adding more box offices.
- There will be an automated ticket system and people will be able to purchase advanced tickets.
- They will be opening a drive thru for concessions.
- They'll be adding a snow cone machine out by the drive-in's marquee.
- There's been fresh paint added to the building and the once boarded-up windows are now open to allow customers to see into the snack bar area.
- Their website design will also be changing.