Only open since Oct. 10, the Montgomery Cinema & Drafthouse at Wheaton’s Westfield Mall is already closing. This sister to the Arlington movies-and-chow theater took months to spiff up the rundown multiplex formerly occupied by Loews; on a recent visit, everything from the lobby bar to the bathrooms to the comfy houses themselves seemed shiny and new.
Perhaps because they’d barely been used — I was there on a Saturday for a 5:10 showing of Transporter 3, which at first was empty but eventually filled up with a whole five other people. I’m not even sure they weren’t just workers bored out of their minds.
Why the sudden shutdown? The Drafthouse’s email subscribers got this explanation today:
With great sadness and disappointment, we are forced to close the Montgomery Cinema & Drafthouse. Our family has poured our heart & soul and resources into opening this location, with the hope of providing great entertainment to the Wheaton and Montgomery County community.
In our opinion, we were not prepared for the conduct by Westfield and, in our opinion, the anti-small business nature of Montgomery County’s permit process. We simply could not overcome the excessive costs in money and time that was required to deal with these two overwhelming negative forces. Couple these challenges with a worsening economy and national capital crisis – and the result was a perfect economic storm which was too much to bear.
After being open for 2 1/2 months – Westfield refused to pay the remaining balance on the construction allowance. The bitter irony is that we were evicted by a company that in our opinion owed us more money than we owed them. Our only hope is that Westfield does the right thing and promptly pays the remaining construction allowance (that they failed to release to us) to the builder and contractors who deserve full payment.
More details are to come, but for now our family needs some time to recover and focus on our Arlington location. Arlington will remain open and please join us there for your Drafthouse fun. Best of luck to everyone this holiday season and let’s hope next year is better than this year.
And another one bites the dust. Way to go, Westfield.