At a Feb. 7 VIP reception, more than 100 people gathered to see for the first time the extensive renovations to Springs Cinema & Taphouse movie theater, formerly the Lefont. Plenty of “oohs” and “ahs” were expressed at everything from the new rug in the lobby area, the tasty food, bartenders slinging cocktails and such details as movie reel fixtures throughout the lobby.
Attendees were able to catch a free screening of now Best Picture Oscar-winner “Green Book” while checking out seats that heat up or extend into recliners with a push of a button.
“This theater is important to Sandy Springs,” said Howard Mavity at the reception. As a 16-year city resident, he said he watched movies at the theater when it was operated by George Lefont and plans to attend even more screenings at its sequel under the helm of new owner Brandt Gully.
“I loved George, but it was time,” Mavity said. “What’s [Gully] has done is very unique. It’s a home run. This place has been embraced by the city.”
A full bar where people can grab a Jack and Coke and watch a basketball game, a venue where nonprofit organizations can hold fundraisers, and even a place where a pre-teens can have celebrate birthdays and play “Fortnite” on the big screen – these are all now available at what Gully says is “different than your typical chain movie theater.”
But make no mistake, movies – art films, foreign films, blockbusters — are the top priorities, he said.
“First and foremost, this is a movie theater,” Gully said, “and it is when people come to the movies that they discover what else we have.”
Gully purchased the theater in 2017 from Lefont, who retired after a career that spanned more than 40 years of making Atlanta movie history as the owner of the Silver Screen in Buckhead; the landmark Plaza Theatre, still Atlanta’s oldest continuously operating theater; the Screening Room; and the Garden Hills Cinema.
The theater is located in the Parkside Shops shopping center at 5920 Roswell Road, in the rear facing Sandy Springs Circle.
Gully is no amateur when it comes to running a movie theater. For years he’s worked in securing funding for construction and renovation of movie theaters and other entertainment venues, including at the large corporation GE Capital, and working with such major chains as AMC and General Cinemas.
In 2009, he started his own business, EFA Partners, to help venues broker funding. Among local companies he has worked with are the CineBistro at Town Brookhaven theater and the Topgolf golf-oriented entertainment complexes.
Lefont gave him an office at his theater about three years ago and Gully said he fell in love with the place and in love with the loyal customers. But the movie theater was falling into serious disrepair. Dirt and muck caked the floors, hot dogs sold from behind the register came with buns that were hard as a rock, and over the summer the air conditioning units went out in two theaters. Gully wanted to take his experience and transform the theater he knew was important to the community.
“I think the location is fantastic for an entertainment venue … and there’s tons of exciting growth in the area,” Gully said.
For more information, see springscinema.com.