Alamo Drafthouse was riding high.
The Austin, Texas-based theater chain had managed the difficult feat of expanding its footprint nationally, popping up in major metropolises such as New York and Los Angeles without losing its indie spirit. Its unabashed love of all things cinema, menus crammed with craft beer and locally sourced snacks, and themed events with A-list talent like Wes Anderson and Rian Johnson made Alamo the envy of the exhibition industry. And then in March 2020, disaster struck. The coronavirus pandemic forced the chain to shutter its 41 locations and furlough 80% of its 6,000 employees.
“You can’t save your way to success during a pandemic,” says Shelli Taylor, Alamo Drafthouse CEO. “That’s a great tool when you have revenue coming in the door, but when there’s no revenue there is no saving. So what do you do?”