Restaurant Replaces Former Movie Theater in Watsontown

WATSONTOWN, Pa. -- A new restaurant in Watsontown is breathing new life into a former movie theater.

The former Watson Theatre has sat vacant on Main Street for 10 years, but people can now grab lunch where they used to see movies.

From the outside, the building still looks like the former Watson Theatre. It was a staple on Main Street in Watsontown for nearly 80 years. But step inside, and it's now a restaurant -- the Watson Theatre Eatery.

"We tried to keep as much of the theater as we could, retained different things. Some of the stuff in here is from the original theater," said owner Shane Erb.

The Watson Theatre was a single-screen movie theater that opened in 1941 and closed in 2009. It sat vacant for 10 years until Shane and Kelly Erb of New Columbia bought it. The restaurant opened last week.

"Way exciting, it's overwhelming sometimes," Kelly Erb said.

Instead of popcorn and candy, the menu includes soup, sandwiches, paninis, and more. In the week since the restaurant has been open, people have come in to share memories of the movie theater.

"People that had worked here at some point and capacity, putting letters on the sign outside on the marquee, to being a projectionist, a lot of people coming and seeing movies here," Shane Erb said.

Gary Dye grew up in Watsontown and remembers the movie theater fondly.

"Oh, from way back when, when I was a little kid, I used to come to the movies like every week just about," Dye recalled. "It's been so vacant and it's really nice that something like this is coming in town here."

The restaurant is just the beginning. The Erbs plan to expand this into an entire venue.

"As soon as the back is renovated, we can use it for conferences, weddings, receptions, all kinds of events," Kelly Erb said.

The Watson Theatre Eatery is open Monday through Saturday for lunch and dinner.

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