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Rochester’s Lakeshore Drive-in Theatre May Get New Life

January 15th, 2014

The marquee sign at the former Lakeshore Drive-in Theatre in Greece, NY. [PHOTO: NewYorkDriveIns.com]
Last month RocSubway Facebook fans brought us rumors of a new grocery store for downtown Rochester (those rumors turned out to be true). Now comes an equally exciting rumor from RocSubway that has also checked out. John Tachin, owner of Mr. Dominic’s restaurant in Charlotte has purchased the former Lakeshore Drive-In site and is considering plans to reopen it as a drive in movie theater…

The theater was demolished in 1993 but now developer John Tachin is exploring the possibility of rebuilding it. [PHOTO: NewYorkDriveIns.com]
The Lakeshore Drive-in external link opened on July 1, 1950 and was a popular destination among families and teenage, eh hem, sweethearts, until its final season in 1992.

National Amusements of Dedham, MA held on to the property until late last year. They listed the 18 acre parcel at 207 Ling Road external link for $595,000 and John Tachin jumped on it.

The old theater had one screen with space for 480 cars. [PHOTO: NewYorkDriveIns.com]
“I used to go there all the time as a kid. Such good times. It was the last one in Rochester when it closed up,” John told me in a phone interview. Today, John takes his own kids out to Vintage Drive In external link in Avon for the same experience.

In addition to owning Mr. Dominic’s restaurant external link which he purchased from his father-in-law, Dominic Pane, a few years ago, John also owns Jetset Development Inc. Jetset would handle the construction and another company would be brought in to manage the theater’s operations.

John has already had the land surveyed and he imagines a new theater and concession building would be laid out similar to the original. He estimates construction will cost somewhere around $1.3 Million.

Lakeshore opened on July 1, 1950 and closed after the 1992 season. The last movie shown was a double feature; 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' and 'Unlawful Entry.' [PHOTO: NewYorkDriveIns.com]
Of course, drive-ins are a seasonal business around these parts, so John is also considering adding an indoor theater and game arcade to make it a year-round business.

When would it open?! Let’s just say opening night would probably not happen in 2014. John says everyone he’s talked so far has responded very positively to the idea, but it’s still too soon to say whether or not the movie business would be a sustainable one. He’s doing his homework first and not rushing into it quite yet. (To be fair, we caught wind of his plans way before he had intended to share them.)

This is where the big screen used to be. A forest has sprung up in its place over the last 20 years. [PHOTO: RochesterSubway.com]
Over the past twenty years nature has reclaimed much of the grounds. These photos were taken just yesterday. The shot above shows where the big screen used to be. Below, a makeshift skatepark has been built in place of the concession stand. And the tile floor of the restroom is still mostly intact.

Where the concession stand used to be - a makeshift skatepark has been built by the local kids. [PHOTO: RochesterSubway.com]
Another idea he’s exploring for the property is to use it as overflow parking for the new marina development at the Port of Rochester. He thinks an adjacent railroad right-of-way could be used to shuttle people between the parking lot and the port.

The last surviving remnant of the old theater is this tiled bathroom floor. [PHOTO: RochesterSubway.com]
John admits the drive-in concept is much more appealing to him. Especially since he learned that his father, John Tachin Sr. (88) was the mason who built the original foundations for the old movie screen and concession stand sixty-five years ago. And that is something he only learned after buying the property. Perhaps this is destiny?

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 15th, 2014 at 7:56 am and is filed under Interviews, Rochester History, Rochester Images, Urban Development, Urban Exploration. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

17 Responses to “Rochester’s Lakeshore Drive-in Theatre May Get New Life”

  1. Carlos Mercado says:

    Amazed at how much basic infrastructure remains after twenty plus years. Of course reviving a Drive In Movie sounds great, and so does the marina Port parking with a train shuttle. Adding some year-round attractions, and you’ve got something there!

  2. Ken Dean says:

    I think this is a great idea! I’ve been to the one in Avon and they always seem to be busy. I have fond memories of Lakeshore from when I was a toddler with my parents to when I was a young adult. Good luck John!

  3. Douglas Fisher says:

    Open-air movies with a fixed screen and good loudspeakers would provide a higher quality viewing experience than today’s shoreline movie experience, which involves a makeshift screen and speakers set up on the sand, with viewers traversing the sand to set up their own chairs.

  4. Douglas Fisher says:

    Establishing passenger train usage on that railroad line could provide great entertainment, as riders of the trains at the old Roseland amusement park in Canandaigua can testify.

    The Roseland trains, which traversed the lagoon area, were open above what we normally see as the low line of windows on enclosed trains today. Utilizing this sort of train car would preview the open-air movie experience, while providing a fun ride to the various attractions at the Port of Rochester.

    This system could allow enhanced patronage at the drive-in theater, where a movie would draw patrons in cars outnumbering the drive-in spots available. Of course, seating at the drive-in would be needed for this option.

    Providing this train system would greatly enhance the capacity for all activities at Ontario Beach Park and at the Port of Rochester.

  5. Katie Ayala says:

    I am so excited after reading this! I loved going there when we were kids & would love even more to relive it with my husband & our children. Drive in would be the best idea! I think it would bring great business!!!

  6. James says:

    As much as I like the Idea of bringing back the drive-in, I think the shuttle train idea is by far a better idea. The train could make several stops on its way to the harbor which would allow business to be built and grow within the area along the line and at the harbor itself.

  7. Krystle Zenner says:

    John,
    What a wonderful idea!! I love to see successful people in Rochester put back into the community – sounds a lot like what is happening with I-square in Irondequoit right now too. It takes years of planning and hassles with town boards but if the community is behind you it can happen and if we all ban together we can make Rochester a better place and bring it back to its former glory. I wish you all the luck and patience to make this dream come true!!

  8. Eric says:

    Reopening the Lake shore drive-in theater would be so awesome. Some of my friends live near the former drive-in site and they have never been to a drive-in theater and said they would love to go. I also have some cousins near there that would love to go because they have to drive to Avon or Silver Lake just to go to a drive-in. I am from the buffalo area and I would even go. Please reopen the Lake shore drive-in theater that would be so great. Also it would make a great news title, “The last Rochester drive-in to close will be the first one to reopen after 21 years.”

  9. ozoner says:

    This great! i remember being at lake shore in Syracuse NY when it closed. it was playing karate kid 2 and ghost busters 2 on it,s last night
    for those that thought drive-ins done i confirmed
    that 29 drive-ins were open for business in NEW YORK State last year by calling each one personally.I am from the Syracuse area and I would defiantly go. I wish you all the luck to make your dream come true!

  10. Many of the photos above came from my website, which is now located at http://www.travbeav.com/drive-ins.
    My parents took me to Lakeshore every summer from 1985 through 1992. I would love to see the theater reopened – especially if it could be rebuilt to look like the original. Best of luck to Mr. Tachin!

  11. wendy white says:

    Oh please do got lots of great stories and would love it to come back for not only myself but the kids and grandchildren. Family’s need more options for there family’s Got my fingers crossed!!!!!!!!!!

  12. charles says:

    if you build it they will come – I will come my family will business will flourish word of mouth will spread – train idea = crap just like the fast ferry = garbage – not enough real family oriented things anymore for family oriented people keep that in mind

  13. I just thought of something that wasn’t covered in the article…I wonder if John Tachin also purchased the land at the corner of Dewey Ave and Ling Road? This is the land where the large marquee (top photo) used to be. In fact, the RG&E telephone pole with power feed is still there that used to provide power to that sign.

  14. Phil says:

    BUILD IT JOHN!!! It will def bring more people back to the area. The Drive-In in Avon makes a killing. Just think how well Lakeshore would do being so much closer to this side of the city.

  15. Ron says:

    Wow after reading about the possibility of bringing back the lakeshore drive in. Brought back fond memories of my childhood and the time I spent there. Great idea Mr Tachin, but I personally feel that the younger generation will never appreciate it. The kids these day are unlike my generation and unless theirs restrictions enforced any new developments here will be uninviting to respectful people looking to enjoy themselves.

  16. Eric says:

    I do believe it would be appreciated by the younger generation I am 22 and have worked at a drive-in theater for 2 seasons and about 60% of the attendees were teenagers and young adults in their 20′s, 30′s. Not to mention all the families that I saw going with kids. I use to work behind the box office directing the drivers on what screen to go to and what station to tune in to. Also I would check the vehicles to make sure no one was sneaking in. I miss it so much. There were 2 drive-in theaters where I use to live in the buffalo area and I use to go to them with a lot of my friends just about every week in the spring and summer time. I have since moved and now I have to drive nearly 2 hours to go to a drive-in now but I will still make the hike. Please reopen the Lakeshore drive-in theater I will come home and take my friends from Rochester their.

  17. Ben fournelle says:

    Remember seeing micheal Keaton in batman when I was 7 there, and frequent the avon drive in… frequently…


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