GOOCHLAND, Va. (WRIC) — An area drive-in theater recently won an 8-year-long battle to be recognized for more than just its movies.
The folks at the Goochland Drive-In believe that people come to their theater for more than just to watch a movie.
They say it’s about the experience, and as a result, they’ve been fighting a battle for years to be designated as a “local attraction.”
This week, their claims were finally validated when the Virginia Department of Transportation agreed to put them on a local attractions sign on the highway.
John Heidel, the business’ owner described what makes the drive-in different from other theaters.
“Drive-ins really aren’t just movie theaters, and anyone that comes out here will tell you it’s much more than seeing the movie,” Heidel said. “It’s the whole vibe. It’s the experience.”
He said it’s an experience that people seek out because there are only five drive-ins left in the entire state.
As a result, he’s fought for the past eight years to get the business listed on a highway attraction sign on I-64, only to be told that movie theaters aren’t considered attractions.
“Time and time again, ‘You don’t qualify, you don’t qualify,'” Heidel said, describing the response he got from VDOT. “Finally ended with the conversation, you want to do something, change the law.”
So Heidel reached out to a county supervisor who took the issue to the state house. And Del. John McGuire who reached out to VDOT to find a compromise.
“I like to say it isn’t me, maybe I was a good facilitator,” Del. McGuire said. “I put the folks that needed to talk to each other in the same room and I just can’t thank VDOT enough for helping us to find a solution.”
The Goochland Drive-In is now being recognized as an attraction, and will soon see its name on a highway sign.
“That’s a personal victory right there, but for the business, it means more visibility on the highway,” Heidel said. “That benefits us and it also benefits the potential patrons that say, he, a drive-in. I thought they were all gone. Maybe I’ll get off here at Hadensville and see what’s happening.”
The Goochland Drive-In will have to pay for a spot on the highway attraction sign, which will be going up within the next 45 days.