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Frank Theatres reopens for business after three-day shutdown

CEO Bruce Frank looks forward to 'working with the landlord'

BLACKSBURG, Va. – Frank Theatres CineBowl & Grille reopened Friday afternoon, three days after the property owners locked out employees, saying the theater was $450,000 behind on rent.

The large red letters making up the Frank Theatres sign were being put back on the outside of the building Friday morning, several hours before the theater paid an $80,000 bond, as required by a Montgomery County judge Thursday during an emergency injunction hearing.

Property owners turned over the keys after the payment was made and the court order filed. Theater managers and property owners then toured the facility to insure everything was in working order and in the same condition as it was when employees left Monday night.

"We're looking forward to being back open," said Frank Theatres manager Ryan Clawson. "We have great movies coming out, we have a great staff that's coming back."

Clawson says it will be business as usual following the opening. What is yet to be seen is where the landlord-tenant relationship, soured over the allegations of unpaid rent, goes from here.

"The tenant's inaction caused us to have to take these actions. After months and months and months of trying to reach them by email and letter and phone and personal visits and many meetings we got no response," said Blacksburg APF Partners' attorney Jeff Mitchell. "We got promises but no action and unfortunately their inability to maintain their obligations under the lease forced us to take this action."

"Unfortunately a lot of people were impacted by the action that we took, not the least of which is the ownership of the group. Hopefully now we have their attention," Mitchell continued.

In a text Friday, Frank Theatres CEO Bruce Frank said, "We are open for business and look forward to working with the Landlord. We are hopeful they are able to complete leasing the rest of the center. We are proud of CINEBOWL and Imax and looking forward to opening Guardians of the Galaxy next Thursday!" he wrote.

Frank did not address the allegations of unpaid rent but when pressed about the debt and whether he planned to get current, Frank responded, "Yes."

The first test will come Monday when property owners say next month's rent comes due.

"This whole process started because they were so behind on rent and have been behind on rent for many months as you saw yesterday," Mitchell said. "We would love nothing more for them to pay their rent, get caught up and maintain their current status. But we want to see them perform first."

Mitchell said Cinergy Entertainment, the company announced to take over management Wednesday, is still interested.     

"We think First & Main has found a great new operator if the current tenant cannot fulfill its obligations in a timely manner. We're ready for plan B."

Mitchell says the two sides have had more productive conversations in the last 48 hours than they have in the last 48 months.