Mendon Twin Drive-In, last of the great movie theaters
Text and photos by Steev Riccardo
MENDON - Once upon a time there were at least 5000 drive-in theaters in the United States. These days they are only 449 left in the world, and three of those are in the state of Massachusetts.
One of them, the Mendon Twin Drive-In, has the distinction of being the state’s only digital theater and has not only one screen but two! It also has a very popular ‘50s- theme concession stand.
The Mendon Drive-In was built in 1953, showed its first movie on May 14, 1954, and has been a popular stop for families and movie lovers of all ages ever since.
Sue Swanson purchased the drive-in in 1987 and that’s when she and her business partner Kathy Gorman added the second screen and vamped up the concession stand with a ‘50s coke machine, jukebox, and other memorabilia.
Before getting into the movie theater business, Swanson had taco wagons in the Milford area and was very well known for that. Then she came up with the great idea of incorporating the taco business into the theater’s concession stand.
“When I purchased the drive-in, I brought all that food into the drive-in and even to this day people will come just to eat the homemade Mexican food,” she said. “These are people who have followed me since the early ‘80s.”
Last year, the theater went digital on both screens, which Swanson said was “a huge change” and has made a big difference in the quality of the movies shown.
“We cater to family entertainment so we basically play every family movie that we can get our hands on because that is our bread and butter,” said Swanson.
This summer the theatre will have some marquee titles including “Monster University” and “Superman.” “We play all of the big blockbusters that come out in the summer.” she said.
Currently playing at the theater are “Fast & Furious 6,” “Epic,” “The Internship,” and “The Hangover 3.”
“It’s a fun business; we enjoy it. You have to love what you do to make it work,” said Swanson.
The theater opened for the season in mid- April and will be showing moves until the third week of September. Admission price is $25 per carload. They are open seven days a week, rain or shine.
The Mendon Drive-in is at 36 Milford Street (Rt. 16) in Mendon, 508-473-1092. To see what’s playing, go to www.mendondrivein.com.