On Monday of this week, the owner of the Starlite Drive-in let employees know it was closing down. An auction of its equipment is planned for mid-November 2018. It’s the last drive-in south central Kansas and one of only four (4) in the state of Kansas according to the Wichita Eagle blog post I link below.. The property has been sold from earlier Wichita Eagle articles and it appears destined to be a warehouse distribution center. I am not hopeful it will stay a drive-in, but it would be a shame if it goes away. Here’s a blog post: https://www.kansas.com/entertainment/ent-columns-blogs/keeper-of-the-plans/article220249865.html. Sadly, the previous owner, Jim Goble, hoped to avoid it being shut down when he sold it shortly before he died.
“(Goble’s) biggest fears were after he was gone that someone would run it down below his standards, which he had very high standards for the drive-in, or that someone would just cash in and sell it to a developer, which is exactly what is happening,” Cohen said.
They deleted its Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/starlitewichita (showing as
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“What’s happening is really a tragedy,” Cohen said. “It’s not like closing a McDonald’s. You cannot rebuild a drive-in in this day and age from the ground up. Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever and there’s no replacing it.”Cohen said it’s considered common courtesy that, if a drive-in theater comes up for sale, the owner will alert other drive-in owners who might be interested in maintaining the theater operation.
“(Bucinski is) not even making any effort at all to sell it or make it available for sale to someone who would want to keep it open,” he said.
At this point, it’s unclear what the future of the Starlite looks like – though it would be hard for it to reopen as a drive-in once its screens, speakers and other furnishings are auctioned off on Nov. 13.