Four Brothers Drive-In: Now It’s Movie And An Overnight
The concession stand at the Four Brothers Drive-In.
A camper similar in aesthetic, not size, to the one that Four Brothers will soon be renting out, according to Stefanopoulos.
A night at the drive-in.
When we first wrote about Four Brothers Drive-In Theatre in Amenia, New York, shortly after it opened in 2015, we were excited by the artful vibrancy of the place and its immediate connection to the community. We cheered for the enthusiasm the second-generation sons of the iconic local Greek pizza chain had for the unusual business experiment they were building behind the family’s flagship restaurant. Even so, at the time it was hard not to couch that enthusiasm with a little doubt. It’s not like the drive-in industry is exactly flourishing.
Now, three years later, Four Brothers Drive-In is not only a resounding success, but founder John Stefanopoulos is growing the business in ways he could never have foreseen, from hosting weddings to offering onsite camping. You read that right: any night of the week you can pitch your tent behind the Amenia Four Brothers, watch a movie in the comfortable outdoor lounge, order food and have it delivered from the restaurant or the concession stand, and then tuck in for the night. (There’s a $40 per tent fee, and they ask that you call ahead if you plan to camp. Pack-out is 10 a.m.)
“Our focus, in the beginning, was to get things up and running,” says Stefanopoulos, who adds the family was supportive but it was up to him and brother Paul to make or break it. “Since then we’ve been focused on the experience. It has to be beautiful, clean, and more than a movie theater. We’ve become a destination.”
Stefanopoulos says the growth is due to them being open to new ideas and taking the calculated risk. He’s built a drive-in where most visitors spend as much, if not more, time out of their cars than in them. With a comfortable retro atmosphere and quality food and drinks, Stefanopoulos says they have people showing up hours before the movies start just to hang out.
“We really want to make everybody happy,” he says. “We also know it’s important that we grow at the right pace. We can do all these things but we have to do them right, and they have to look right. Also, at the end of the day, with the restaurant, the quality of the food is obviously something we want people to see as one of the biggest things for us.”
If camping isn’t your thing, there are a lot of other crazy-like-a-fox plans in the works at the drive-in. They have an electric car charger, mini-golf is coming soon and there’s a plan, already approved by the town, for a much larger concession stand. Also, because so many people are watching the movies outside of their cars, Four Brothers has partnered with Revolution Design House in Portland, Oregon to create the world's first specifically designed drive-in theater chair.
And if that’s not enough, by the end of August, Four Brothers will have a custom Airstream camper on site. So if you don’t feel like roughing it in a tent, you can “glamp” overnight after the show. Stefanopoulos says they’ve already booked quite a few reservations. The camper, which is designed to fit right in with the quirky retro theme of the grounds, will sleep six, have AC, a bathroom and shower, a stocked fridge, room service, and a big hammock seat off the back from which to take in the films. (It'll cost you $325-$375 per night.)
All these plans might seem like a lot for one business that started as an add-on behind the family restaurant, and it is a lot of work, but Stefanopoulos says everything has evolved organically from listening to what customers wanted. He says they regularly hear from people who drove for hours to get there, so giving them an option to camp overnight might have seemed odd at first but he rolled with it.
“I actually had never been to a drive-in before we opened,” Stefanopoulos admits. “But in a weird way, I think that’s good. I didn’t have an idea of how it was supposed to be. So we just did what we thought would be the most fun for our guests.”
4957 Rt. 22 Amenia, NY
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