For most of us, when you go to the movies you expect the movie to be the best part. Maybe you look forward to some buttery popcorn or a cold soda but never do you expect the staff and atmosphere to be the best part. At The Casino Theatre in Mt. Pocono, this is always the case.
Karen & Don Struckle, owners of The Casino Theatre, have great service in their genes. This family-owned business has thrived over the years and while much of The Casino’s success is a result of their ingenuity, the fun atmosphere, friendly faces, and personal service have kept customers coming back for years.
Q. The Casino Theatre has been in your family since 1975, what are your earliest childhood memories?
A. Before our family owned the Casino Theatre, the original owners, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, were selling movie tickets, popcorn in little bags and soda in Dixie cups right in the theatre lobby. We bought the theatre in 1975, which also had a gift shoppe, sewing shoppe and malt shoppe. We were only open in the summer and the whole family worked at the business. In March 1976, the Casino Theatre burned to to ground. By July 4th, 1976, we had a brand new building up and running, but we were only able to rebuild a single screen theatre and the malt shoppe.
Q. Are there any particular movies you remember seeing?
A. The movie we remember as being the biggest hit in the early days was the original Rocky. We had a line going out to the sidewalk and down the block.
Q. When your parents expanded The Casino, what were their goals?
A. Over time, we added a game room, a kitchen, mini golf and a full food menu. Then we twinned the theatre so we could start showing first run movies. Our parents’, George and Sheila Litz, goal was to add multiple attractions to make the Casino Theatre a destination. This made it possible to be open during the fall and spring.
Q. Since then, how has the Casino changed?
A. Next we added Dinner, Drink and a Movie on Monday for $11. It became so popular we added Dinner, Drink and a Movie for $11 on Tuesday.
Our dinner and movie nights got so busy we ran out of tables for our guests. That’s how we came up with the concept of delivering our food on trays, right to our customers inside the theaters. This made it possible to eat a meal while watching a movie…long before the multiplexes even served food.
Q. You host parties too. Are they for kids only?
A. We have been hosting children’s parties for decades, for a reasonable price: $14.95 per child which includes movie, pizza or hot dog, chips, 2 drinks, popcorn, tax and gratuity. But our parties are not only for children. We have hosted many adult parties, including a Sock Hop!
Q. As the second generation, what improvements have you made?
A. Ten years ago we went to a year-round schedule. We’re open every day during the summer and holidays and six days a week in the fall, winter and spring. Next we added our Thursday deal: All Seats $5. Five years ago we upgraded to digital projectors, Dolby surround sound and 3D. We now have state of the art technology so we can show the latest movies.
Q. What is the best way to find out which movies are being shown and the show times?
A. The best way to find out what is playing at The Casino is to go to our website – casinotheatre.net – or our Casino app – m.casinotheatre.net.
Q. What makes The Casino better than your average movie theatre?
A. What makes The Casino Theatre special is people – both our customers and our staff. The most important part of our business is the relationships we have made over 42 years. The Casino is our second home and people make all the difference. Our regular customers are just fun to be with and we make new friends all the time.
Many of our customers have been with us for as long as we have had The Casino. We have regulars from around the block to New York, New Jersey and all over Pennsylvania, including locals, second home owners and visitors. And we make new friends every day. We recognize people from when we were teenagers to those who just moved here this year.
Also, we are very proud of our staff. For most of them, The Casino is their first job. We have a four-day trial period to see if the job is a good fit. We want our employees to enjoy their first job. Our customers regularly compliment us on our staff.
Q. What can a first time movie-goer expect?
A. The first time a new customer visits The Casino, we explain how The Casino is different from any other theatre. There is a lot going on in our building and it looks much smaller on the outside than it is on the inside. Our staff welcomes our guests and explains all of the options available: food, ice cream, games, movies, mini golf, specials & discounts, popcorn, homemade waffle cones and cotton candy.
Q. What are your plans for the future of The Casino?
A. Looking forward to the future, we will continue to keep our prices reasonable, make new friends and visit with our regular customers, which is the best part of our business.