Tucumcari: The Odeon Theater is coming back!

pattern stories
Written by:
Ed Domain

The interior of the Odeon waits for guests to return.

Like many of you, I have fond memories of going to the movie theater and buying buttered popcorn. I love it, and usually treat myself when I go.

Christy walked me back to the lobby and showed me the 1954 Manley Popcorn Maker.

I met Christy Dominguez Lopez on a hot August day in Tucumcari, New Mexico. The sun was high in the sky, and there wasn’t a cloud in sight.

I was at the front door of the Odeon, the movie theater in Tucumcari with stories of its own, and I was imagining the cool, air conditioned interior, the fun of watching a movie with a crowd, and hot buttered popcorn.

Lost in reverie, Christy startled me as she walked up with a bright smile to meet me a moment later, and we went in to chat.

The takeaway from all this?

The Odeon is back as of August 2021!

First Dates

Born and raised in Tucumcari, Christy moved away to start a career and lived in Redondo Beach, California, before returning to Tucumcari in 2009 after her father’s wife passed away due to cancer.

She stayed in Tucumcari, working at different jobs until one day in 2013, Christy Dominguez went on a date with Robert Lopez, and they went to see Frozen.

The sign that set Christy and Robert on their current path.

Additionally, there was a sign that caught the new couple’s attention. “Theater for sale by Owner” the sign said.

Fast forward, Robert and Christy got married, and now they own the Odeon Theatre.

Updates!

While owning a historic movie theater sounds exciting, it also had not been updated since 1954.

“We had to upgrade everything,” Christy told me. They had to do things like upgrade their projectors to digital and 3D and spent a healthy six figures doing it.

Christy shows off one of several new “cuddle seats,” they installed in the remodel.

“We have the best systems of anyone, anywhere,” Christy beamed. “We can show all the newest movies, right here in Tucumcari. That means a lot to us, and the community.”

She was right about the community. Everywhere I went in Tucumcari, I mentioned that, “I met Christy Dominguez Lopez” and the next thing I heard was, “I hope they are able to reopen soon!”

Sing with me: “Let’s allll goooo to the lobby, let’s all go to the lobby…”

Covid, and a Grant

The Odeon Theatre has been closed due to Covid since March 15, 2020. “Robert and I feel lucky we didn’t lose the theatre, and now we’re going to be reopening in August, better than ever before!”

There is a grant entitled, “The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant” that Christy and Robert won, which is delivering $46,000 to them to finish doing some of the needed remodeling.

Which brings me to the popcorn.

The 1954 Manley Popcorn Popper.

1954 Manley Popcorn Maker and New Concessions

Like many of you, I have fond memories of going to the movie theater and buying buttered popcorn. I love it, and usually treat myself when I go.

Christy walked me back to the lobby and showed me the 1954 Manley Popcorn Maker.

“This is a classic, and it still works,” Christy told me, “but… it’s also a classic. This is a 1954 model, and it needs a new bronze kettle to get back in action.”

I stopped and looked at it. I would have never guessed it was as old as it was, but upon closer investigation it made sense. Everything on it was solid, and the design was definitely (now) retro cool.

Christy gestured with her hand towards the concession lobby next to us and said, “The SVOG is going to allow us to redo the lobby. We need to move the bathrooms, expand this area and give everyone more room. We would have people on top of each other and a line out the door, which isn’t great for anyone. We are going to make it even better here, and we can’t wait for everyone to see!”

Tucumcari history and its future

The Odeon Theatre was built in 1937 and was considered the blue collar movie theater.

Back then, there were two places to see the movies, and the blue collar crowd went to the Odeon, while the well heeled went to the Princess theater.

When World War II started, the Odeon was the only air conditioned building in town, and so locals enlisting in the military showed up at the Odeon before shipping out on buses.

We neared the end of our time together, and chatted a bit about movies we both liked. I saw a poster on the wall for the movie Hell or High Water, and Christy saw me looking.

She told me that while the film takes place in West Texas, it was filmed in Clovis and Tucumcari. I made a note to see it when I got home. (I did, it’s a great movie)

“I love our town,” Christy told me. “There is a lot of potential here for growth in Tucumcari, and we’re seeing more people with ideas that believe in Tucumcari move here, too.”

We both looked at the theater again, and Christy exclaimed with a smile, “We can’t wait to have everyone back to the movies this August!”

From the Odeon’s Facebook Page.

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