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Alcoholic beverages at theaters now allowed

Last week Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law new legislation that makes it easier for theaters like Grand Cinemas in Sunnyside and the Princess Theatre in Prosser to sell alcohol to patrons over the age of 21.

Ray Hallett, owner of Grand Cinemas, said he is aware of the legislation and the conditions outlined in the new laws.

He said his theater would be required to segregate a portion of the building for those being served alcohol.

"That brings about a myriad of complications," said Hallett.

Mari Page, manager of the Princess Theatre, said the Prosser theater would not have such complications because it has fewer than four screens.

"We have had patrons interested in bringing alcoholic beverages from our banquet room into the theater during performances and shows," she said.

Both said they are researching the regulations and allowances of the newly adopted legislation to determine if serving alcohol would be a viable business move.

Hallett said he will have to make certain he is employing individuals that are able to withstand the pressure they may have when preventing the sale of alcohol to minors.

He said with the complicated logistics of a larger theater like Grand Cinemas, he must consider how the theater would remain family-friendly.

"It involves jumping through hoops to get the building to fit the requirements," said Hallett.

"I think there's a market, but I don't believe it's economically viable," he noted, stating the number of patrons interested in being served alcoholic beverages may be just a small percentage of those attending showings at the theater.

"It's a complex issue, but we are interested in hearing from the patrons," said Hallett.

To provide input, Hallett said patrons of Grand Cinemas can email responses to alcohol@hallettcinemas.com.

He said he is interested in input whether it is for or against the issue.

Page said the Princess Theatre and Valley Theater Company, which operates the historic theater, will need to look at the regulations for small theaters to determine whether or not to seek a license for selling alcoholic beverages.

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