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More Upgrades At The Riviera

June 13, 2017
by Jane Whitmore , Emmetsburg News

In recent years there have been major changes to bring the outside of Riviera Theatre back to its original glory, and bringing a state-of-the-art movie experience. More changes are in store and this time a little help from theatre patrons is in order.

"The theatre is considering replacing the seating to ensure a more comfortable movie going experience," said Steve Hoyman. "This is where we are looking for assistance."

A Little History

History of the Iowa Theatre, as it was first known, began in 1906. In a book on Opera Houses of Iowa, Iowa Theatre was a grand facility with ground-floor seating 342 on the main floor and 358 in two balconies. The theatre burned down in 1932, but was restored in 1934.

Most recently, the theatre was owned and operated by Fridley Theatre.

To keep the theatre from closing permanently, Hughes Pharmacy (Steve and Greg Hoyman families) purchased the Riviera Theatre in May 2008.


From the outset, the Hoymans began renovation of the theatre.

"We cleaned the entire place," said Steve.

The floors were cleaned from wall to wall, the seats were scrubbed and a new coat of paint was applied.

Next, the wiring was brought up to code and the sound system was replaced.

"We installed a system for the visual and hearing impaired," he noted.

The next step was replacing the old-style projector with a state-of-the-art digital projector. The old projector reels were on display in the lobby for a time, so patrons could see how movies were shown in the "old days."

Concession stand upgrade fell into line. The popcorn popper, ice machine and exhaust fan were brought up to date. And, new exit lights were added in the building.

Emmetsburg businesses participated in a downtown revitalization faade project in 2015. Riviera Theatre was part of that project.

"We restored the building's store front to a 1950s theatre appearance," Steve said. "We dressed up the front with vertical lights and a restored marquis."

New Seating

Since the Hoymans have owned the theatre, theatre-goers have enjoyed the changes. Now they are looking to make going to the movies a more comfortable experience.

"We are considering replacing the seating," he said. "We would like to install new seats with rocker backs, fixed arms, and cup holders."

There are 360 seats in the theatre. The seats van be purchased and installed at a cost of about $250 each. Do the math, and 30 seats at $250 is a total cost of $90,000.

The Hoymans are appealing to the public to help with this renovation project.

"If you are interested in keeping our theatre current, please consider donating $250 to help us purchase a seat(s) in your name," Steve says.

"For your donation, we will purchase and install the seat and highlight your name on the big screen, along with our other ads, prior to each movie showing. Your name will appear on the screen for one year. We will also place your name on our website as a donor," he added.

The Hoymans are working with Emmetsburg Community Development Corporation, so donations will be tax deductible.

Mail or deliver donations to Emmetsburg Community Development Corporation, 2021 Main Street, Emmetsburg, IA 50536.

"Remember, there is a limit to the number of seats you can donate," said Steve Hoyman, with a smile. "No one person will be allowed to donated toward more than 360 seats."



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