The Main Street 7 Theatre in Fremont will be renamed as the Fremont Theatre after being sold to a local owner earlier this month.
Main Street Theatres, which operates six locations in Nebraska and Iowa, sold the theater to Geof Rau, who worked as the company’s director of operations. Rau became the owner of the theater, located in the Fremont Mall, on Nov. 1.
“Geof and his family had the opportunity to purchase the theater and they did, and we couldn’t be more excited for them,” Main Street Theatres owner Bill Barstow said. “It’s kind of cool that he was here when we built the theater and expanded it, and he’s intimately familiar with it.”
Rau, a graduate from Midland University, helped open the Fremont location on Christmas Day in 1995 and worked as its original manager. He also helped with the theater’s expansion a few years ago, Barstow said.
Rau purchased the theater with his wife, Leigh, and his son, Garret. Although he has stepped down as director of operations, he will stay on as a consultant at Main Street Theatres.
“This was an opportunity to buy something I’ve been running for 24 years,” Rau said. “And I just took that opportunity, and it worked out nice.”
In Main Street Theatres’ early years, Barstow said it was built on smaller markets, but has now shifted its focus to large-market locations, which led to the Fremont location’s sale.
“Fremont has always been a really good theater-going market,” Barstow said. “In fact, it’s one of the top-grossing theaters outside of Omaha and Lincoln in the state.”
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Main Street Theatres’ flagship locations are the Aksarben Cinema in Midtown Omaha and the Promenade Cinema 14 in Sioux City, Iowa. It is currently constructing a 12-screen complex at 204th and Q streets in west Omaha.
Main Street Theatres will also stay connected to the Fremont Theatre by providing consulting and film-buying services.
Brice Allen, who has worked as manager at the Fremont location since March 2018, said the change in ownership won’t affect the theater’s reputation in the Fremont community.
“Our prices are still a lot lower than Omaha, and we’ve just got friendly service and good movies,” he said.
Rau said the theater may see some small remodeling in the next year, including changes to the carpet, paint and decor. He said he’ll have a better idea of any future changes in about a year.
“My wife and my son are looking forward to helping out, working there and running the location that’s actually ours,” he said. “We’ve always thought of it as ours anyways, but now it’s officially ours.”
Barstow said that Fremont was one of Main Street Theatres’ “shining stars” and knew that it would be in good hands with the Rau family, which he said was instrumental in the theater’s growth.
“I was reviewing some pictures over the years, and I’m watching my kids grow up, pictures of them in the theater when we were doing different things,” he said. “So it’s a little melancholy, but at the same time, our company’s changing, and we thought this was a great opportunity for Geof.”