The Bel Aire Diner in Astoria, Queens hasn’t closed its doors in 25 years, and its owners were determined to keep it that way despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
How are they staying busy? By turning their parking lot into a drive-in movie venue.
“We were thinking about a way to bring the community together,” said Victoria Philios, the diner’s event coordinator. “A lot of people are scared and worried about the pandemic. But we wanted to think of a way that people could have fun but still be safe.”
In the past two weeks, Bel Aire Diner has hosted three sold-out screenings, each of which filled the parking lot with as many as 40 cars.
This past Wednesday customers came for two viewings of “Dirty Dancing,” the 1987 romantic drama dance featuring Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze. The film was projected on a 25-foot outdoor screen and the audio played through a local radio station.
“People love it. I had a person come the first time and parked next to their neighbor,” Philios said. “They hadn’t seen their neighbor in two months.”
The first screening was “Grease” on May 7. The fourth and upcoming event (already sold-out) includes two screenings of “Sandlot” on Saturday, May 16 at 8:00pm and 11:00pm.
During the showings, customers order from a special “Drive-in” menu with options such as “Johnny Castle Sliders,” “Nobody Puts Baby in the Corner!” and “Scared of Everything, But Mozzarella Sticks.”
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