Ward Johnson, left, and Eddie Landenberger are figuring out how the Parkway Theater can make it through the pandemic. Provided photo
It has lost a tenant but co-owner Ward Johnson says the Parkway Theater will survive.
El Burrito Mercado, which rented the former Pepito's space from Johnson and Eddie Landenberger, announced Monday that it will close permanently. It’s next door to the Parkway, which is located at 4814 Chicago Av. S. in Minneapolis. Like most businesses, both are shuttered.
“It’s certainly a blow,” said a statement from Ward Johnson, who owns the Parkway and the neighboring restaurant space with business partner Eddie Landenberger. “El Burrito was a great friend to the Parkway. We will miss them dearly.”
When they bought the Parkway and Pepito's two years ago, Johnson and Landenberger renovated the former movie theater and repositioned it as a multipurpose center, which has programmed concerts, podcasts and book readings in addition to vintage films. While closed (the marquee currently reads “Intermission”), the venue is selling gift cards and sponsoring “virtual screenings” of art films, including Javier Bardem in “The Road Not Taken.”
Johnson said the theater is doing as well as can be expected. Staffers are working on programming that fits its mission, including events like the one “live” one it has hosted since the coronavirus pandemic led to its closing, a talk with writer Nora McInerny that was scheduled prior to the closures but pivoted to an event McInerny led from her home.
“I think people still crave seeing people on a stage,” said Johnson, adding that trying to bring events back into the theater will involve considerations such as bathroom usage and lobby capacity. “How can we produce a show like that and keep everybody socially distant from each other?”