BY KRISTI FISH | MIRROR REPORTER — The face of Maumee sits on the corner of the Anthony Wayne Trail and Conant Street. Thousands of residents and commuters pass by the iconic structure each day.
The Maumee Indoor Theater is featured in several photos, murals and other art pieces that represent Maumee, and it’s something executive director Sara Eiden keeps in mind when making decisions.
“Not only do we provide fun, affordable community entertainment, or ‘FACE,’ we are literally the focal image when people think of Maumee,” Eiden said. “When people think Maumee, they think ‘that theater on the trail,’ and I think it holds sentimental value of the history of the town.”
When locals think of the Maumee Indoor Theater, they probably have specific memories in mind, Eiden said. She knows when people walk through the building for various reasons, many of them reminisce about past movies or adventures they’ve had in the building, and for good reason, too.
“The Indoor Theater was originally opened from 1946 to, I believe, 1996 as a single movie house,” Eiden said. “It was just the front theater, and it ran first-run movies, just like any regular movie theater would.”
The theater closed for several years before it was purchased by the city and underwent several renovations, including the addition of a basement and second theater. It was reopened in 2004 as more than just a movie theater.
“My biggest hope is that people will know if they’ve got an idea for an event they’d like to have, we’re a great place to do it,” Eiden said. “I think we can offer a lot more than what people think we do.”
What the theater can offer is an event space for big and small groups – from organizations and families to daycares and businesses.
“Private events book every day of the week, all through the year, including on holidays, which is something that I think is unique for a private event space. We are open seven days a week, 365,” Eiden explained. “We have fairly priced rates, I would say, for our theater venues.”
Two of the most popular bookings are the family film and birthday party packages. For $150, the Family Film Package, which was developed during COVID-19, allows families to enjoy the moviegoing experience in a more private setting. Up to 20 people are permitted for the viewing and a small popcorn and soft drink are included for each person.
The Birthday Party Package is $250 and includes a three-hour time slot on a Saturday or Sunday morning or early afternoon. It includes the whole party setup, too.
“We do a lot of full-day rentals for groups and organizations, too,” Eiden said. “They just give us a call at the theater office or go on our website, maumeeindoor.com, and request a booking,” Eiden said. “All of our events and booking types are available to be requested on the website.”
Several events are also hosted at the theater and are open to the public, including comedy shows, musicals and theater productions.
“I think a goal of mine would be to attract some attention of some more live entertainment coming through. Those are definitely our most popular events,” Eiden said, “whether it be groups that are touring the nation or maybe a children’s theater group that comes in and does a workshop.”
Eiden noted she’s happy to have the local theater groups come in. There is usually a week of dress and tech rehearsals before shows open to the public. Tickets for all of these events can be purchased at the theater or from the organization in charge of the event.
The Maumee Indoor Theater has a space perfect for hosting these types of programs, Eiden said.
“The main theater in the front of the building is the original movie house, so it has the classic theater seating with the fabric seats, cup holders and armrests in the traditional theater layout. That space also has a full stage for live performances,” Eiden explained.
The original movie house holds nearly 500 people while the second theater can accommodate just over 100 people.
The wide variety of public and private events that can be hosted in both theaters is important to the business, Eiden said.
“We really do like to add a variety of attendees in our facility,” she said. “I think the biggest thing we can do for the community is really just be the space that people can come to because we are for the community, so seeing a wide variety just, to me, shows how much of a staple we are.”
At its core, though, the Maumee Indoor Theater is a movie theater. That’s what it was originally and that’s what it still is today.
Known for its affordable $5.00 tickets, the theater is able to keep costs down by running second-run or intermediate movies. The movies are shown in a regular theater for several weeks, usually six to eight, but sometimes as long as 10-12 weeks, before the movies can be shown at the Maumee Indoor Theater.
“When you come in, we’ve got our concession stands where you buy your tickets and your concessions,” Eiden said. “Tickets right now are $5.00 per person. That’s for any age. Our concessions include popcorn, soda – we have Pepsi products. We have slushies, we have typical movie theater candy – Sno-caps, Raisinets – so you can get those classic movie candies with us.”
Hot dogs were also available last summer for $4.00 each, or a hot dog, chips and small pop package could be purchased for $6.50. With the popularity of the food item, Eiden has chosen to continue offering hot dogs as dinner options for upcoming evening shows. The concessions are also available to go, with some customers stopping in just for a bucket or bulk bag of popcorn.
On Wednesdays, customers can also pay $5.50 for the Wild Wednesday deal, which includes the movie ticket, popcorn and pop.
With all the different offerings for a wide variety of people, Eiden hopes the Maumee Indoor Theater has earned its place as the focal image of Maumee.
The Maumee Indoor Theater is located at 601 Conant St. and can be reached by phone at (419) 897-8902 or found online at maumeeindoor.com.