Local theater owners cheer bill's victory

Kiggins, Liberty may get more freedom to sell alcohol

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photoKiggins Theatre owner Dan Wyatt gives his best James Bond look as he poses with Miss Greater Clark County Shelby Meader at a "Vancouver Goes Hollywood" event on Feb. 24. Wyatt said he's very excited by the progress of a bill that would expand alcohol sales at the theater.

(/The Columbian)

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OLYMPIA — The Kiggins theater in downtown Vancouver will likely be able to sell alcohol due to the success of House Bill 1001.

Proposed by House Speaker Pro Tempore Jim Moeller, D-Vancouver, HB 1001 allows theaters to sell alcohol without a restaurant license or a cordoned-off area. The bill passed Friday in the Senate, with 27 in favor, 21 against and one absent.

For small theaters such as the Kiggins, or the Liberty theater in Camas, the extra profit from alcohol sales can be the difference between success and failure.

Dan Wyatt, the owner and operator of the Kiggins theater, said he was very excited by the bill's passage.

"Once we get started serving (beer and wine), it will have a big impact on business," he said.

Wyatt said he hadn't had any direct conversations with the liquor control board, which issues the permits for sales of beer and wine under the bill, but he hopes for implementation to happen as soon as possible.

"It's our number one requested thing, there's rarely a day that goes by that customers don't ask for it," Wyatt said.

Rand Thornsley, managing director of the Liberty Theater in Camas, said he heard about the bill's passage seconds after it happened.

"We think this is going to be the key to continued success and operation of the theater," he said.

Thornsley said the bill's passage helped him extend his lease on the theater another five years, because of the projected revenue alcohol sales would bring in. "It was all contingent on that bill passing," he concluded.

Thornsley hopes the Liberty will be able to offer beer and wine by October.

Sens. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver, and Ann Rivers, R-La Center, voted in favor of the bill, while Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, voted against.

The bill received an amendment in the Senate, making theaters with more than four screens not eligible for the alcohol permit. The Kiggins does not fall into this category, being a single-screen theater.

HB 1001 will need to go back to the House to be voted on again. If it passes, it will travel to the Gov. Jay Inslee's desk to be signed.

Another measure passed by the House would allow day spas to offer clients a free glass of wine or beer. It also needs to return to the Senate for reconciliation.

The Associated Press contributed to this story