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New Operators Set to Take Over Silco Theatre
Written by C.P. Thompson on July 30, 2019
The Silco Theatre will have new operators come the end of August — Bob Grunstein and Joe Navan — who are going to take over for Chris and Zach Aquino, who have run the downtown movie palace since its 2016 reopening.
Silver City MainStreet Executive Director Charmeine Wait said that Chris and Zach gave their notice more than a month ago, indicating that the two would be leaving the business at the end of August. According to Wait, Chris has plans to travel with his wife.
The Silco is owned by the town of Silver City, with MainStreet acting as landlord. The Aquinos had a lease agreement with MainStreet, paying rent for the Silco. With Zach and Chris ending their agreement, Grunstein and Navan and MainStreet will be starting a new lease.
“Myself and the MainStreet board — we would like to thank Chris and Zach for getting the Silco established,” Wait said. “Chris and Zach did their job as far as what MainStreet was expecting, as far as economic development. They were involved with it before it was being restored.”
“We first weren’t sure how we were going to move forward, so we put a request for proposals out,” Wait said.
The deadline for proposals was July 19, and only two proposals were submitted for the MainStreet board to look over. During a meeting, the board selected Grunstein and Navan.
“Bob has a lot of business experience, a really good heart, love for this community and a passion for it,” Wait said. “Joe comes with a great deal of production and marketing experience.”
The two also have connections to people who are involved with the movie business. Navan and Grunstein wanted to become operators because they wanted to see the Silco remain open.
“I am all about the history of it,” Navan said. Even “being here for three years, I truly feel this is my home. I grew up in a small town.”
“It is such a beautiful theater and centerpiece of the community,” Grunstein said. “It just called out to me.”
The pair, who have been friends for more than 40 years, met while starting a bilingual theater in Tucson, where they “clicked.” They have run beauty salons and flower shops together.
Grunstein considers himself a serial entrepreneur, while Navan enjoys putting on events. Navan worked on more than 250 theatrical productions — including directing this year’s Silver City Grant County Has Talent competition.
Changes they plan to implement include holding events like dances, receptions, comedy nights, live theater performances and music, trivia night and late-night showings.
“We would like to help youngsters learn filmmaking,” Grunstein said.
They will continue to bring first-run movies to the theater, and would also like to extend concession hours.
“I hope to bring my entertainment experience and enhance some of the things already here,” Navan said. “This was a theater built in 1923.”
Navan and Grunstein have created a Silco board for advice, which consists of people like Vintage Fantasies owner Patsy Madrid, Ward Rudick, Deb Hildebrandt, Cissy McAndrew and Wait. Hildebrant, who is a consultant for the new operators, said there is a Facebook page that is being worked on, and there will be a monthly newsletter that tells what is happening at the theater.
“We are excited about Bob and Joe’s new energy for the theater,” Wait said.