Yes, he and his wife, Milena, are ecstatic to learn they will become parents to a third daughter in October.
But on a business basis, Smith also learned that website TripAdvisor.com has named his three-screen Stars and Stripes the third best drive-in movie theater in
Only one other
Smith was in a grocery store parking lot, waiting for Milena to return with milk, when a friend texted him with news of his theater's ranking on TripAdvisor.com.
"It was pretty much the shock of the year for me," he said.
Smith is sure
I admit this was my introduction to
He explained, "Milena and I love to travel whenever we can; we like to get away and see more of God's beautiful creations.
"And so we've often used
Mind you, Smith never before has seen a listing -- anywhere -- of the country's top drive-in movie theaters. But he has seen the Stars and Stripes listed among
Smith is proud his theater is enjoying just its 11th anniversary on
The seven theaters following the third-ranked Stars and Stripes in this website's Top 10 are: Highway 21 Drive-In in Beaufort, Sout Carolina; the Coyote in
For more than a decade, I have admired this young man, who opted against a law career to go into the movie business. The number of drive-in theaters had been dwindling; yet Smith was determined to offer contemporary moviegoers the same "family drive-in experience" that his relatives provided decades ago.
He opened his theater as a two-screen, then added a third, all with radio sound.
His concession stand has a 1950s ambience. Always looking at the indoor theaters as competition, he provides first-run movies. Each screen offers a double feature, with the price raised in 2012 to
Keep in mind that picture quality was improved first, as Smith shelled out for digital projection for all screens in
Not long after that, he overhauled the marquee, adding what he calls "beautiful neon," and re-paved his main drive.
Last year, he began planting trees to help with ambient light.
Here is another date to circle. He can only do it once a year, but he offers a "carload night" near the theater's anniversary. So on
He already has added a merry-go-round to the playground. Still on his bucket list: "We want to add a covered patio, and more seating, hopefully before next summer."
The biggest change he has noticed: "University students are finding out about us," said Smith. His biggest challenge, he said, upon some thought: "Creating a work environment that is as special as the drive-in experience. We are proud of all the people we have working for us."
Mind you, his biggest challenge must be his dream to expand. He is building another three-screen Stars and Stripes in
He emailed just days ago, "They are almost finished grading two of the three auditoriums, and almost finished with the '50s Cafe pad site."
I would quote some of the almost 70 reviews given the theater, but Smith reminds me, "The drive-in is about people making memories together. Enjoying movies and each other, enjoying food and the outdoors, and privacy and prices you can't get at other theaters."
Finally, I'm thinking maybe this column will inspire a lot more reviews on
However, my wife was quick to point out destinations that should perhaps be considered -- especially the last two: Lubbock Water Rampage, the Vietnam Center and Archive at Tech, and
When I checked out TripAdvisor.com on Thursday, these were the top 30 destinations listed for
Also, 11. The Rawls Course; 12.
Chat about movies, theater, music, dance and visual arts at my blog playBill by Kerns at lubbockonline.com -- or check out
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