Fremont couple Jeff and Jenny Karls have an affinity for all things retro.
Not only does Jeff work in classic automobile restoration, he also collects old cars as a personal hobby.
“I restore and collect old cars, I have had hot rods and muscle cars since I was old enough to drive and younger,” he said.
Jenny is an architect with a keen personal interest in mid-century modern design, which includes architecture, furniture, and other design elements popularized in the 1950s and ‘60s.
“That is something that both me and my wife are heavily interested in, mid-century design, Danish modern furniture, things like that,” her husband said.
The pair’s shared love of the bygone eras of the 1950s and ‘60s led the couple to their plan to build a drive-in movie theater in the northwest corner of Douglas County.
The idea to build their very own drive-in theater came while they were sitting in their 1946 Ford Sedan Delivery at a drive-in theater in Pittsburgh while on their honeymoon back in 2013.
After more than five years of planning, the couples dream is finally coming to fruition as the Douglas County Board unanimously approved a special use permit for the new Quasar Drive-In Theater earlier this month.
The Quasar will be located near the corner of Highway 36 and 300th Street, about a mile-and-a-half east of the Highway 275 expressway’s Bennington exit between Valley and Fremont.
When it opens, The Quasar will feature one 50-by-100 foot screen with space for around 420 cars along with a snack bar, ticket booths and restrooms.
According to Jeff Karls, the couple also plans to add a second slightly smaller screen and car field within the next few years.
“We would like to try to do that and conservatively estimate that we could do that within 2 years after opening, so we would want to expand to a second screen that would house about 350-375 cars,” he said. “It would be about two-thirds the size of the main screen and that would help us with flexibility for movie showings.”
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Although the Quasar’s future location is currently farmland, the couple plans to build and open the outdoor theater by spring of 2019.
“Our plans are underway, we have our civil engineer at work right now on site plans and grating and all of our infrastructure that needs to be brought to the site,” Jeff Karls said. “Obviously its Ag land right now so we have to bring in power, drill a well for water, put in a private sewer system and go from there.”
When The Quasar opens, The Karlses plan to show first-run movies on weekends from Memorial Day to Labor Day, along with the possibility for “throwback Thursday” features in the future.
Along with expressing their love for all things mid-20th century, the couple also want The Quasar to be a place where entire families can get bang-for-their-buck entertainment.
“That is something that we would like to be able to provide value to the community too, where you get a double feature movie for a ten-dollar adult ticket and kids under 12 are free, that is a great value for a family of four,” Karls said. “That is the whole idea, for people to come out early and stay late and get a lot of value for your dollar spent because there are not a whole lot of places you can do that anymore with the family.”
Creating an entertainment experience that can be enjoyed by entire families means meeting interests of millennials and baby boomers alike, which according to Karls, is something the drive-in theater experience can do.
“When you talk to some of the millennial generation of folks that are very excited about the drive-in experience, you find it’s because those kids have never experienced it and they are excited to go check it out because that is a bygone era to them,” he said. “Also, there is a neat appeal for the folks that were into the drive-in during the first go around, they want to relive their senior year in their senior years. They want to come out and share that experience with their grandkids and families.”
Karls says he appreciates all of the community support for the project during the special use permit approval process and beyond.
“It’s really humbling to see how many folks are as excited about this as we are,” he said. “It has been tremendous the amount of community support that has come together around the theater.”
With a lot of work ahead of them to turn their cornfield into the retro drive-in of their dreams, the Karlses are ready for the roller coaster ride over the next year to prepare The Quasar.
“It’s like when you get to the top of the first hill on a roller coaster where it starts to clink, clink, clink, and you get to that last one right before the big drop,” Karls said. “We are about 10 feet past that now so things are moving fast.”
More information, and updates about The Quasar’s progress, can be found on the theater’s Facebook page – Quasar Drive-in Theater.