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New Fremont Cinemas owner ‘couldn’t pass up’ chance to buy beloved theatre

Fremont Cinemas saved from bankruptcy, to reopen under new management
Posted at 10:03 PM, Sep 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-24 22:09:23-04

FREMONT, Mich.  — Fremont Cinemas on Main Street is a special place for Melissa Millis. She’s been watching movies there since the 1990s, began working as a crew member in 1992 and then became the assistant manager soon after. Throughout the years, she worked alongside different friends and relatives.

“My daughter, I have a picture of her sitting 8-months-old on the counter top,” Millis said during an interview with FOX 17 on Wednesday. “Then my son and I, we come to the movies all the time. We’re huge movie buffs.”

Movies is one her biggest passions, she said. So when Millis found out Fremont was closing, she was devastated. She and her son went to the theater on Sunday and watched their final movie.

“I came Wednesday after work just to get popcorn one last time,” Millis recalled. “And I saw Tanya here, one of the co-owners. She had told me what she was going to do and I was [in] tears of course you know.”

On Friday September 18, Tanya Mendoza bought the movie theater, saving it from bankruptcy.

“I just have a love of this place,” Mendoza said. “I was here when it opened and it was just one of my favorite places to work”

Mendoza said when she initially called the previous owner in early September she asked if she could buy the projector for a drive-in movie theatre she owns in White Cloud. However, he asked her if she could buy the whole place, including the equipment, concessions and the projector.

Mendoza accepted his offer.

“I really couldn’t pass that up,” Mendoza said. “I personally do not have business knowledge. So that is how Ken and I decided to be co-owners so that he can help me with the business side.”

Ken Terveer is a longtime friend of Mendoza’s. He works at a local car dealership and owns a pizzeria called Seasons that he and Mendoza hope to one day partner up with Fremont when it opens.

“It means a lot to me to be a part of saving something like this in our community,” Terveer said. “Hate to say that if you look around there’s been a lot of businesses that have closed here and there and Fremont’s a really good town.”

He said it’s also a family-oriented town. Right now, many families and teenagers are traveling to Muskegon or Grand Rapids to go to the movies there. They hope that by opening Fremont people will stick around.

“Most movies are shown at night. You always worry about that as a parent,” Terveer said. “This way, I think that keeping something like this in the community will keep the community in the community and be able to keep our kids a little bit safer on the roads.”

He added that it’s also a place known for its inclusivity. April is Autism Awareness month and the Fremont honors it every year. Both Terveer and Mendoza hope that in the future they can offer sensory showings for people who have autism and other disabilities.

“This has always been a place where they really embraced the adults with disabilities,” said Mendoza, a mother of two kids who have autism. “We want to continue to do that. That was really my goal having a place where they’re welcomed.”

Right now, the theater is undergoing renovations. And they’re cleaning it too. However they won’t be able to reopen its doors until the governor's executive orders are lifted. Once they are, they hope the Fremont is a place where all feel welcomed.

“I think it’s just going to be a great thing for the community once it gets up and running again,” Millis said.