Riverwalk Theater in Edwards has new owners and is now serving beer, wine | VailDaily.com

Riverwalk Theater in Edwards has new owners and is now serving beer, wine

EDWARDS — The Riverwalk Theater was built in 1995 and has been a community gathering space ever since. Now, Grant and Katherine Smith want to enhance that community feel.

After two years of working on the deal, the Smiths earlier this year bought the theater from Steve Lindstrom, of Vail, who built the place and had run it since it opened.

Lindstrom said he's happy the building — a large space in the middle of The Riverwalk at Edwards — will continue to show movies.

"We had some interest from nontheater users who would have changed the use," Lindstrom said. "We're pleased (the Smiths) have taken it on and are going to inject fresh energy into it."

On a recent late-summer afternoon, Grant Smith talked about some of the new features at the theater, as well as plans for the near future.

The theater now has a liquor license and serves beer and wine to go along with the popcorn and other treats.

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A coffee shop is coming soon, thanks to a partnership with Eagle's Color Coffee Roasters. Other plans include an outdoor seating area and a walk-up window for both food and coffee.

And the food won't be just popcorn, but pizzas from nearby Village Bagels. The idea is to bring a little more life to the location beyond just show times.

Into the theater

The community approach to partnerships carries into the theater.

"What attracted me is that movies are a communal experience," Smith said. "People come in, and they sit with other people. They put their phones down."

Chris Mihalick is one of the theater managers at The Riverwalk. For the past nine years, he's seen the community come in to watch the latest Hollywood has to offer.

Mihalick is a former chef and said working in the theater is better than life in a kitchen.

"I didn't think I'd be here this long," Mihalick said. "But we're having fun, talking to and meeting people."

And, while people these days are using their phones, tablets and other devices for entertainment, Smith said people still come to watch movies on the big screen.

And to have fun.

"People are here to have fun," Smith said. "That's part of our job."

Mihalick noted that the Vail Valley is built on fun, so a theater is a natural amenity.

While Smith is a fan of the movies, he can't tell you who the cinematographer was for "Citizen Kane."

That's probably a good thing, Lindstrom said. Movie buffs sometimes forget there's also a business to run.

That business, like most other small businesses, demands a lot from entrepreneurs, Lindstrom said. And, even with managers on staff, it's hard for owners to leave for any length of time.

It takes a lot of energy, he said. And that's why Lindstrom's happy to have the Smiths take over the Riverwalk Theater.

"It was time for some new blood," Lindstrom said. The building needs a little care "and maybe some fresh thinking and concepts."

With workers out front taking care of the patio, the Smiths are bringing those new ideas, and quickly.

"We want to give people a high-quality product at reasonable prices," Smith said.

And, he noted, there's still nothing quite like seeing a big movie on a big screen.

"It's a different experience," he said.

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at smiller@vaildaily.com and 970-748-2930.

What’s playing?

• “Life Itself”

• “Operation Finale”

• “The Nun”

• “The Predator”

• “The House with a Clock in its Walls”

For showtimes and other information, go to http://www.riverwalktheater.com.