Fate of Coyote Drive-In still unknown

Coyote Drive-In will bring six outdoor screens, live music and 100 jobs to Lewisville. It's the first outdoor theater in Denton County in more than 30 years. (Photo by Christina Ulsh)

UPDATE 9/29: It is still unclear whether Lewisville’s Coyote Drive-In will open again or be closed permanently.

The theater’s Facebook page alerted followers Sept. 21 that the theater would be closing in advance of storms. That was the night that the mobile home neighborhood just south of the theater experienced severe flooding.

However, the theater did not reopen, and in the evening Sept. 27, the theater’s Facebook account announced that it would be closed until further notice.

The qualifications on both Facebook posts have left followers uncertain as to whether the theater has closed permanently or whether or not it will re-open.

When asked, Coyote CFO Rich Schwarte said it was “more than likely” closed permanently, but preferred to send a statement to The Lewisville Texan Journal via email. Then, Schwarte said via email that the company did not have any comment for the record at the moment.

However, The Dallas Morning News’ entertainment blog guidelive.com reports that they have received an official statement — that the theater isn’t doing the business that ownership thought it would, and that they are looking at different options for what to do with the property.

Multiple employees, who asked to remain anonymous, said even they weren’t sure whether the drive-in would open again. One thought there was hope for the theater to reopen after the traditionally slow winter season. Another said he’d been told they were closing up for good. All were open to being wrong about it.

All employees we spoke to said they were given no advance warning that the theater would be closing, and found out that it would be closed on Sept. 21 when everyone else did.

The common thread among employee interviews was that the theater was underperforming. They offered several possible reasons, including a limited movie offering and a lack of advertising. One employee said that even after almost two years in business, people still came in saying they didn’t know that the Coyote was there.

“Fort Worth is a tourist location, and the way the Fort Worth Coyote is set, it’s in the middle of the city perfectly. Has a beautiful backdrop and everything. So it’s easily accessible, and you have constant stream of new customers since it’s a popular city to visit,” the employee said. “But they sadly never bothered to really advertise the Lewisville location. We had one billboard one time, and we did a school event.”

Another thing all employees agreed on was that they were sad to see the theater go.

“The entire staff really loved that place and everyone who came. It was a huge let down for them,” one employee said.

ORIGINAL STORY: According to a Facebook post published Thursday night Sept. 27, the Coyote Drive-In theater in Lewisville will be closed indefinitely.

No reason was given in the most recent Facebook post, but a Sept. 21 post explained that the outdoor theater would be closed due to inclement weather, and stated that the location was susceptible to extreme rain. The theater is just north of a mobile home neighborhood that was severely flooded during the storms of Sept. 21-22.

The company website is also devoid of details, simply saying that “Coyote Drive-In Lewisville is currently not showing films. Please join us at our Fort Worth location in the meantime.” The Fort Worth location is just north of downtown Fort Worth, 37 miles away from the Lewisville one. The next closest outdoor theater is the Galaxy Theater in Ennis, Texas, 56 miles away from the Lewisville location.

Coyote Drive-In chief operating officer Steve Winn has not yet responded to calls for comment.

Lewisville’s Coyote Drive-In is just the third location for the popular chain of retro outdoor theaters, with others in Fort Worth and Leeds, Alabama, just east of Birmingham. The Alabama location is closed as well according to the company’s website, though this location is listed as “undergoing changes” and is expected to reopen next spring.

The Lewisville location was wildly popular upon opening in late 2016, and its Facebook page already boasts more than 70,000 likes.

City government was also particularly happy with the theater, with staff saying at the time that the plot of land on which the theater sits is awkwardly shaped and difficult to find a use for. The city passed $306,500 in economic incentives and waivers for the complex in 2016.

The Lewisville Texan Journal will update this story with more information as it becomes available.