Local partnership getting ready for reopening
By Lola Harmon-Ramsey
As they say in Hollywood, “the show must go on,” and in Fremont, Michigan a last minute partnership will help Fremont Cinemas continue to light up the two screen facility for your local viewing pleasure.
The new partnership between Ken Terveer and Tanya Mendoza is another example of Newaygo County connections and the past coming back into focus. Tanya owns the former drive in movie property located close to White Cloud, Michigan. She saw the recent postings from the former cinema owners indicating their upcoming closure and selling of equipment. Tanya was interested in purchasing the film projectors and after some discussion with the former owners realized that perhaps, she may be interested in purchasing everything. Tanya was the assistant manager of Fremont Cinemas in 1991 and had experience with the facility. Tanya’s name remains visible on the timecard holder that still hangs in the back room today.
With a very tight timeline for acquiring financial support to make this purchase possible, Tanya reached out to Ken Terveer, a local entrepreneur who owns Season’s Pizza and works in sales at Freedom Chevrolet in Fremont. An out of state buyer had been identified for the contents of the theatre, but a final deal had not been executed at that time.
Both Tanya and Ken wanted to keep a small-scale family theatre in the area for everyone to enjoy. “Muskegon or Grand Rapids is the closest theatre if this wasn’t here. We don’t want people out on the roads late at night or having to leave town to have a fun night out with their kids,” said Ken. “We also don’t need another vacant building in the area. We wanted to save the business.”
“This is a good place for families to go,” stated Mendoza. Tanya has three children, a daughter and two sons with Autism. “We want to keep up with the sensory showings and be a place that welcomes people with special needs. You don’t see that a lot these days,” said Tanya.
Both Tanya and Ken showed a commitment to try and employ individuals with special needs and have already brought on one of Tanya’s sons, Caleb Tyink. Caleb is interested in running the projector and learning everything about the theatre. Caleb stated, “I am going to be running this place soon.”
Another past employee, Melissa Millis, has joined the team and will be consulting with Ken and Tanya to get the theatre ready for action. Melissa worked with Tanya at the theatre in the early nineties and remembers watching the films on Friday before the first official showing and meeting people at the theatre that would impact her future. “If not for this theater, I wouldn’t have my daughter today,” said Millis.
The current State of Michigan Executive Order due to Covid-19 does not allow for movie theatres to be open to the public. The new team is using this time to complete renovations, acquire different equipment, replace some seating, clean, and make the necessary improvements for their inevitable re-opening.
“Our landlord has been very gracious with us and accommodating to ensure we can stay here and be ready to be open when the restrictions are lifted," said Terveer. "We don’t know when that will be, if it is next week we won’t be ready to open yet but, we are working hard on getting this place ready soon,”