— Steve’s market —
Editor’s note: Contributing columnist Steve Nicklas expresses his views and ideas on a variety of topics in Marketplace.
As the curtain draws to a close at the B&B Theater picture show in Fernandina Beach, it’s sad like watching the tearful story of “Brian’s Song”.
The sleek theater with cushioned reclining seats opened with vertigo and fanfare. Have a Margarita while watching a movie. His race, however, ended unceremoniously. There will be no recall.
The Fernandina location was part of a chain of family-oriented theaters. You can rent an entire auditorium for birthday parties or watch old movies during “Retro Night”. According to the company’s website, there are about 50 theaters left, with several locations in Florida.
The once popular theater is another casualty of the global pandemic. A contagion is the worst scenario a cinema can imagine. Forget a B-rated movie with a lousy plot and second-rate actors.
The pandemic has claimed other victims. Once-popular restaurants like Pozzi Bistro and The Patio Place have recently closed downtown. Hopefully we won’t see many more.
But a movie theater had a dual purpose. This allowed families to take care of their children, especially on rainy days. This includes families here on vacation.
Tourism officials have lamented a dearth of activities for children as Amelia Island transforms into a retirement community. We had a bowling alley, roller skating rink, batting cages and a waterslide next to an arcade and go-karts. These are all gone.
We still have several stellar miniature golf courses as well as a new mini bowling alley downtown. All this can provide entertainment, for children and adults. We even had the Emerald Princess play boat at the city marina.
Now it’s all about hotels and restaurants and, yes, doctor’s offices/hospitals. Ironically, the company that bought the cinema will be renovating it into a suite of medical practices. It’s part of the aging genre here.
Fortunately, we still offer a high caliber menu from 100 restaurants on Amelia Island. Even after a pandemic. There is nothing more entertaining than having dinner at a good restaurant with family and friends.
But our restaurants are facing some serious headwinds. Not only are restaurants struggling to find workers – especially in a retirement destination – but they are struggling with 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 ravaged our economy. It was the first time since 2008 that consumers spent more money on meals at home rather than eating out.
Those numbers have rebounded recently. In fact, the costs of eating at home are rising faster than eating out. It could help restaurants regain the “stomach slice” they lost during the pandemic. And improve the value proposition of restaurants.
Steve Nicklas is a financial advisor for a regional brokerage firm who lives and works on Amelia Island. He is also an award-winning columnist. His columns also appear regularly in several North Florida weekly newspapers and on his website at SteveNicklasMarketplace.com. He has published a book, “All About Money”, of his favorite chronicles from the past 20 years. The book is available on Amazon. He can be reached at 904-753-0236 or [email protected])