• STURGIS (3.12.14)  You can now enjoy a burger, a burrito or a host of other menu items while watching a current movie with the opening of a new dinner movie theater in Sturgis.

    The location is Sturgis motorcycle rally venue Easyriders. The dinner theater features full concessions, full bar, recliner-style seating, and a kids’ arcade. Showings are Friday nights, Saturday matinees, and children’s movies on Sundays.

    The movies show on a 20-foot screen with digital surround sounds.

    Ticket prices are $5 and the theater only takes reservations for seating, no walk-ins.  Call 605-561-2400 for reservations.   Capacity is 75 to 100.

    City officials initially went to the owners of Easyriders to ask about the possibility of them opening a theater. The idea of a theater has been a goal of the city council for the past several years.

    But when Kerry Fernholz, a partner in Easyriders, went before the council in January, council members weren’t ready to loosen the purse strings to loan the business $200,000 from the city’s economic development fund.

    The council then voted to table any action on the loan until they received more information on the project. The issue was to have come up at a subsequent meeting, but never did.

    Chad Jagow, general manager of Easyriders, said instead of trying to go through the city for the project, they turned to the Sturgis Economic Development Corp. They were more than willing to help with a loan, he said.

    “We weren’t going to wait,” he said.

    Council member worried that the loan would be secured through the equipment Easyriders would purchase. Member Branden Bestgen said he wanted to make sure the city had equal collateral should the theater fail.

    Sturgis Mayor Mark Carstensen said that for several years, the council has included the desire to open a movie theater within the city as an annual goal.

    “It’s great to have something no one else in the Hills has,” Carstensen said.

    Sturgis City Manager Daniel Ainslie says he believe that the inclusion of a movie theater will help enhance the quality of life for residents. And, a new entertainment venue could reduce some of the trips residents have to make out of town.

    “The city has witnessed the benefit of this with the reopening of the bowling alley,” Ainslie said. “As residents have fewer reasons to leave the city, additional local businesses see customer traffic increase. A movie theater would help fill a void that is currently leading to additional sales leakage outside of the city.”

    On March 18, the Sturgis Dinner Theater will officially open to the public, kicking off the week with March Madness games—this continues through March 21 until 6 p.m. The regular movie line-up begins Friday evening.

    Reprint courtesy of Deb Holland, Meade County Times/Rapid City Journal.  Updated 3/26/2014.