When I was young, before I got a driver’s license, I used to take the 161 bus from my home in Côte Saint-Luc to Van Horne and Côte des Neiges. My friend and I would then walk a few blocks to see a movie at Plaza Côte des Neiges. My dad was friends with the manager, Len Lauer. I even remember his assistant’s name, Moe Raymond. Len and Moe would always let us in at no cost.
About a dozen years ago Bruce Gurberg purchased the Côte des Neiges theatres, adding them to his Cinéstarz chain, which also includes other screens at Carrefour Langelier and at theatres in Ottawa, Orléans, Mississauga and Burlington.
Cinéstarz closed its theatre doors in Quebec and Ontario three months ago as a temporary measure and in accordance with the government’s restrictions regarding the pandemic. Throughout this period, Cinéstarz has been planning to safely re-open its doors in an effort to welcome back their employees and loyal customers. The health and well-being of everyone is the top priority and as such, they have implemented all safety protocols as outlined in this next phase of government deconfinement and with measured operations.
On June 26 Cinéstarz became the initial first-run chain to reopen in Quebec. They are still waiting for Ontario to give them the green light.
Cinéstarz has instituted physical distancing of 1.5 meters at its theatres.. Each room now a maximum capacity of 50 people. There are hand sanitizer stations at specific touch points throughout the theatre and the protective plexiglass feature has been installed at all concession stands. There will be masks for sale should anyone wish to purchase them.
Before this pandemic brought the world to its knees, Gurberg was looking at expansion. That is still on his radar screen, but perhaps not just yet.