This item originally appeared in the Fall-2004 Bulldog Survival Guide issue of The Tech Talk.
By MELISSA WALKER
Dinner and a movie is a classic date.
For Tech students, a mere thirty minutes to West Monroe can get them there. Soon, however, the drive will be shorter.
Nancy Bergeron, director of events for the Chamber of Commerce of Ruston-Lincoln Parish, said it has been announced Ruston is getting a multi-screen movie theater and a Chili's restaurant. They will be located off of N. I-20 Service Road, west of Wal-Mart.
"Hopefully six months from now, people will be able to do a dinner and movie in town," Bergeron said.
Bergeron said there were once three functioning movie theaters in Ruston. There were two up until the 1960s to 1970s.
Bergeron said the main reason the chamber is anticipating the new addition to town is the economic impact.
"This will have a larger impact than on just Ruston. We are expecting to draw people in from places such as Jonesboro, Minden and south Arkansas," Bergeron said.
Andy Halbrook, president of the Chamber of Commerce through July 15, said the movie theater and restaurant are a significant contribution to Ruston.
"This is the biggest thing that has happened to Ruston in 10 years," Halbrook said.
Halbrook said it all started back in 2000. A Tech graduate student in marketing did a study on out-of-parish spending. He found, Halbrook said, that $90 million were spent on clothes, eating and movies outside of Ruston.
Halbrook said this alarmed the Chamber of Commerce and its members began the thought process of how to fix this problem.
They realized, Halbrook said, the main thing Ruston was missing was a movie theater.
Early on in the process of recruiting a movie theater, Halbrook said, the Chamber of Commerce realized the same question always came up: What kind of restaurants did Ruston have?
"Until we had franchise restaurants, we wouldn't get a movie theater," Halbrook said.
The Chamber of Commerce then looked into the law, Halbrook said, about serving high-content alcohol in restaurants.
On November 5, 2002, the Restaurant Referendum, stating that it was legal to serve high-content alcohol in restaurants, was passed.
Halbrook said the following Thursday the Chamber of Commerce announced the intention of the movie theater.
KC Ifeanyi, a freshman chemical engineering major, said he is excited about the movie theater because of the lack of entertainment.
"When you go to Wal-Mart on a Saturday night, you know you have hit rock bottom," Ifeanyi said.