The Spud Drive-in will open again this spring but under new management. The team that has run the day-to-day operations at the theater for the past few years will no longer manage the theater. Instead the drive-in’s owners have selected a new crew to take over those responsibilities.
Tyler Hammond managed The Spud since the ownership change. He said during that time there was not a formal contract, just a verbal agreement for him and former owner Dawnelle Mangum to lease the theater. Mangum quit her role managing the theater last year. Lenny Zaban bought the theater in 2009 and added concerts to the summer line-up, including performances by The Dark Star Orchestra and Wide-Spread Panic. In recent years, though, The Spud has stuck to showing movies.
Hammond said he contacted Zaban this spring to ask when the theater should open and was told that he would no longer be managing The Spud. Hammond said business wasn’t great this past summer, but not because of reasons unique to Teton Valley.
“It wasn’t because of the community,” he said. “The whole industry was down.”
The Spud almost closed in 2011 because of the costs of moving from a traditional film projector to a modern digital unit. Hammond and Mangum, not the owners, were able to raise enough money by selling t-shirts and taking out a loan to buy the new projector. Because of that, he said when he left The Spud, he took the projector with him.
“I still owe money and here I am with no way to create revenue to pay it,” Hammond said.
Zaban said they will have a digital projector in time to open for the season. He said that Hammond was renting The Spud but not actually an employee of his company. Jedd Mumm will take over as manager this summer.
“Jedd Mumm is a great personality to take The Spud forward,” he said,
Zaban has not announced when exactly the theater will open for the season.