Riverview Theater makes its perfect popcorn available despite COVID
## ## Built in 1948, the theater might not be the ideal stadium for a 3D visual roller coaster with a Marvel sized budget, but she also isn’t some insular venue meant for art house releases, either.
Instead, Longfellow’s fairest lady avoids polarizing, embracing anyone with a few bucks in their pocket. Part of the Riverview’s charm lies in its ability to touch patrons in unexpected ways those mid century bathrooms! a bulb lit marquee flashing so hard you can hear the effort! a balcony jutting above and over the crowd, uniting a small village! even before the house lights dim and the (lone) screen flickers alive.
Yet the Riverview isn’t exempt from reality, no matter how strong an aura it casts. In light of the pandemic, the theater drew that big, beautiful 1949 curtain, and closed its auditorium to the public. Until things are safe again, its seats will remain spookily empty.
But for a few days each week, the Riverview reopens just to sell its best in the city, freshly popped popcorn.
“People living in the neighborhood have been stopping by to get popcorn to go for many years, so it seemed like a natural thing to continue making popcorn available even though the theater was closed,” Loren Williams, the Riverview Theater’s owner told City Pages. By Williams’s estimate, “We typically use at least 100 pounds a week.”
For a very Minnesota specific visual of the scale of butter they’re working with: Princess Kay of the Milky Way’s butter head sculptures weigh 90 pounds apiece before they’re rendered into dairy beauties The Riverview needs more than a princess’s worth of butter each week to make its popcorn!
If that image has ruined you on popcorn forever (whoops!), Williams added that they’re also selling candy, sodas, and slushies.
Before regular life ceased, the Riverview had sold its fresh popped takeaway popcorn to passersby and dedicated fans of the concession snack. This new program (“Stay safe but treat yourself”) hasn’t been a drastic shift to those in the know, but as Williams shared, it has offered a bit of comfort and normalcy to Riverview’s “regulars.”
“Many people have thanked us for being open. Some have said it’s the highlight of their week,” he said. “Others have stopped in and gotten as many as eight tubs to deliver to friends or elderly people.”
With so much up in the air for the theater’s future, the Riverview has postponed much of its regular programming, including weekly features and the massively popular Hitchcock Festival. During the interim, they’ve shifted to host “Virtual Screenings,” where patrons can use links on the theater’s site to rent films released by cinema distributors; a portion of those rental fees benefit the Riverview. Those screenings, in conjunction with popcorn sales, help the theater weather the coronavirus, while transporting a bit of the Riverview into customers’ homes.