The 66 Drive-In theater in Carthage, Missouri, is changing owners for the first time in about 30 years.
Fortunately, the new proprietors are familiar with how the place is run.
The Carthage Press reports the the longtime owners of the Route 66 landmark, Mark and Dixie Goodman, have sold it to former local sheriff’s deputy Nathan McDonald, his wife, Amy, and their three children.
McDonald has worked for Mark Goodman for the past 10 years, working security and helping maintain the place, and now he’s looking forward to running The Mother Road’s only operating drive in theater the way the Goodman family has run it for years.
“Over the course of those 10 years, I just fell in love with the place,” McDonald said. “The atmosphere, the venue, the family-friendly environment, it’s just a really unique situation and I wanted to be a part of it. So I was very fortunate and honored enough for them to pass the torch to me and my family so we can carry it on and build on what they built.”
Mark Goodman said he and his wife aren’t going anywhere — they’ll be sticking close by to help the McDonalds, especially in this first year, but he said it was “time to do something different.”
“It was just time,” Goodman said. “Thirty years, we kind of got set in our ways, and it just needed somebody fresh to take it over.”
Nathan McDonald told the newspaper he admires how the Goodman maintained the property and provided a family atmosphere to customers, and he simply wants to keep that going.
The McDonalds soon will have a chance to show what they can do as new owners. According to a post on the theater’s Facebook page, the 66 Drive-In reopens for the season March 31.
According to the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program, the 66 Drive-In opened for business Sept. 22, 1949. Virtually everything is still there, including the neon marquee, playground, ticket booth, concession stand/projection booth and the 66-foot-tall screen. It closed in 1985 and was converted into an auto-salvage yard, but the Goodmans later restored the property and reopened it April 18, 1998, as a drive-in theater.
The 66 Drive-In was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003. The Goodmans deserve thanks from the Route 66 community for their efforts.
(Image of the 66 Drive-In in Carthage, Missouri, by Mark Goebel via Flickr)