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Berkeley Plaza Theatre reopens after fire

November 30, 1999|By TRISH RUDDER

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. ? About 150 people bought tickets for Friday's matinee at the Berkeley Plaza Theatre 7's grand reopening.

The theater off U.S. 11 North had been closed since last June after it was heavily damaged by fire, said Bob Elliott, owner of the theater.

Elliott, who greeted moviegoers at the door for the 1 p.m. matinee, said the entire theater was damaged by water and smoke.

"I like working with kids and I like dealing with people, and it's very exciting to see people come in, and they're happy to be here," Elliott said.

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All but two of the complex's seven theaters were back in operation, with Elliott saying the two smaller theaters will be back in operation this summer. The seven theaters that make up the complex have more than 1,000 seats, he said.

The theater has been completely renovated with new drywall and carpeting, and the bathrooms were redone as well because of water damage, Elliott said. The electrical system was upgraded and the ceilings were replaced, he said.

The theater's ticket prices remain the same. Matinee tickets are $3, and evening show tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for seniors and children 11 and younger.

Elliott said he will keep the prices until the minimum wage is increased, then they will be raised by $1.

"I'll make the adjustment from $3 to $4 and $5 to $6," Elliott said. "That's not a big jump, and we have to be able to pay our employees."

Elliott said he began working at the theater in 1974 as an usher, then became manager in 1991. He took over ownership in January 2006 from Marguerite and Elwood Lane, who owned it for 23 years.

"We put this theater in good hands," Marguerite Lane said of Elliott. "He is not a relative, but we consider Bob and (wife) Carol as part of our family. This was a gift of love to Bob."

Elliott also works full time as a plant supervisor at Continental Brick Co. in Martinsburg.

William Browning was among those who helped Elliott get the theater ready.

"I choked up a little bit when the doors opened," Browning said.

David Kuser said he was glad to see the theater back.

"It's nice he kept the prices the same," Kuser said. "A lot of people missed the theater when it was closed. It's convenient and close and easy to get to."

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