— Steve’s Marketplace —
Editor’s note: Contributing columnist, Steve Nicklas, expresses his views and insight on various topics in Marketplace.
As the curtain draws to a final close at the B&B Theatre picture show in Fernandina Beach, it is sad as watching the tearjerker story of “Brian’s Song.”
The stylish theater with padded reclining seats opened with giddiness and fanfare. Have a Margarita while taking in a movie. Its run has ended unceremoniously, however. There will be no curtain call.
The Fernandina location was part of a chain of family-oriented theaters. You could rent an entire auditorium for birthday parties, or watch old movies during “Retro Night.” According to the company’s website, some 50 theaters remain, with several locations in Florida.
The once-popular theater is another casualty of the global pandemic. A contagion is the worse storyline a movie theater could imagine. Forget about a B-rated movie with a lousy plot and second-rate actors.
The pandemic has taken other victims. Once-popular restaurants like Pozzi Bistro and The Patio Place have closed recently in downtown. Hopefully, we won’t see many more.
But a movie theater had a dual purpose. It gave families something to do with their kids, especially during rainy days. This includes families here on vacation.
Tourism officials have lamented the shortage of kids-related activities, as Amelia Island transitions into a retirement community. We used to have a bowling alley, a roller-skating rink, batting cages, and a water slide alongside an arcade and go-karts. These are all gone.
We still have several stellar miniature golf courses along with a new mini-bowling alley in downtown. These all can provide entertainment, for kids and adults. We even had the Emerald Princess gambling boat at the city marina.
Now, it’s all about hotels and restaurants and, yes, medical offices/hospitals. Ironically, the company that bought the movie theater will renovate it into a suite of doctor’s offices. It’s part of the aging genre here.
Thankfully, we still boast a high-caliber menu of 100 restaurants on Amelia Island. Even after a pandemic. Not much is more entertaining than dining out at a good restaurant with family and friends.
But our restaurants face serious headwinds. Not only are restaurants having difficulty finding workers – especially in a retirement destination – but they are battling soaring food prices. In addition to a change in eating habits.
In 2020, more than half of consumer spending on food was for at-home occasions as the virus ripped through our economy. This was the first time since 2008 that consumers allocated more money toward in-home eating rather than away-from-home eating.
These numbers have rebounded recently. In fact, the costs for eating at home are climbing faster than for dining out. This could help restaurants regain the “share of stomach” they lost during the pandemic. And improve the value proposition of restaurants.
Steve Nicklas is a financial adviser with a regional brokerage firm who lives and works on Amelia Island. He is also an award-winning columnist. His columns also regularly appear in several weekly newspapers in North Florida, and on his website at SteveNicklasMarketplace.com. He has published a book, “All About Money,” of his favorite columns from the past 20 years. The book is available on Amazon. He can be reached at 904-753-0236 or at [email protected])