Coming soon to a vacated hair salon near you: an all-new, unique movie theater with Mercer ties.
Jay Black, a Mercer professor, Carl Fambro, owner of Francar's Buffalo Wings, and Bill Ackerman, a recent Veterans Affairs retiree, have begun converting the former Indigo Salon & Spa next door to Francar’s and Georgia Public Broadcasting into “Black Bear Theater” for Mercer students and the local community.
The Macon-Bibb Planning & Zoning Commission just approved the new business, and a local designer has already begun the renovation phase of the facility. The idea is to show second-run movies, partner with local schools and provide a more social atmosphere for movie-goers.
“We think with the limited run concept, we can actually bring what we call ‘art films’ to Macon,” Black said.
The Black Bear Theater will provide the classic movie staples: soda, candy and popcorn. In addition to the basics, it will also provide a selection of beer and wine for patrons to enjoy before, during and after the production.
“This is an experimental theater, there is nothing like this as far as I know,” Black said. “We’re having a dine-in theater, but with no kitchen. We will allow food in -- where other theaters don’t -- but you just owe me five dollars to bring it in for what we call the uncorking fee. You can bring your mother’s lasagna in.”
Outside, the large patio that Black Bear will share with GPB and Francar’s will be a beer garden, a large outdoor eating area with plenty of tables for moviegoers to eat and drink while waiting for their film to start. When the time comes to enter, they pick up their remaining food and head inside to enjoy the film.
“We’re going to be putting chairs and tables outside,” Black said. “We’ll open the concession stand early, and we’ll be serving beer and wine. We’ll have a beer garden going from here at the theater all the way over to Francar’s. You can get beer and wine from us and wings from Francar’s.”
The hope of the new theater is that there will be “no bad seats,” as Black put it.
Instead of a traditional stadium seating arrangement, there will be a variety of seats available to moviegoers, some as close as five feet to the screen. The movie will not be projected from a traditional booth, but rather from a ceiling-mounted projector.
“I’ve always wanted to run or own a theater,” Black said. “I put myself through undergrad and master’s degree by being a projectionist or theater manager, so I have the manager background, but I never started my own theater.”
The theater is planning to be ready to open before January.
Henry Keating '24 is a sophomore at Mercer, studying Journalism and History. He has worked at The Cluster as both a writer and SGA correspondent. He enjoys playing and listening to music, hiking and camping, and photography in his spare time.