San Antonio man circulates petition asking Alamo Drafthouse to reopen its Westlakes location

click to enlarge Julian Wagstaff became an Alamo Drafthouse Westlakes regular in 2016 when he turned 18. - SANFORD NOWLIN
Sanford Nowlin
Julian Wagstaff became an Alamo Drafthouse Westlakes regular in 2016 when he turned 18.
A fan of Alamo Drafthouse's Westlakes theater doesn't want to see the chain's first San Antonio location, opened some 17 years ago, also be its first to go out of business.

Julian Wagstaff, 23, started an online petition calling for the Austin-based chain to reopen the eatery-cinema, which it recently confirmed it will permanently shutter after months of pandemic downtime. Wagstaff's petition has so far gathered nearly 2,300 signatures.

"There's a community of people that supports this Drafthouse, and I just didn't want to have to say that I did nothing to try to keep it open," said Wagstaff, a Sea World employee who became a regular at the spot once he was old enough to meet its 18-and-up admission policy.

In a statement, Alamo Drafthouse said it was "honored and humbled by the petition," but added that had to make tough business decisions as part of its ongoing Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization.

"While we can't get into the nitty-gritty details, we can say that the decision to close Westlakes was not made casually, or without consideration of the impact on guests and team members," the statement said. "Facing impending bankruptcy brought on by the long-term effects of the pandemic, this year we were forced to make many, many difficult decisions, which included the closure of four much beloved locations, including Westlakes and The Ritz, our historic downtown Austin flagship location."

Even so, questioned why the cash-strapped company would move ahead on new theaters, including San Antonio's La Cantera location, rather than focus on its original properties. A former Westlakes employee told him the cinema was profitable prior to the pandemic.

"As disheartening and even expected as it was for the chain to shut the location down temporarily, imagine the surprise when not a week after announcing the location would be closing permanently, [the company said] more locations across the country would be opening," his petition reads.

Wagstaff said the Westlakes theater had a homey feel compared to the chain's newer locations at Park North and Stone Oak, both of which have since reopened. What's more, the original location's $5 Wednesday-night horror movies were a unique local offering.

"There are memories there for me, and I know there are memories there for other people too," Wagstaff said. "Everyone who signed that petition has been touched by that theater in some way."

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