The New Parkway Theater pivots to food crate service to stay afloat during pandemic

The New Parkway Theater, a well-loved, independently-owned venue in Oakland's Uptown district, has found a way to survive during the pandemic shutdown.

It is selling meals for pickup and delivery.

The theater's seats have been empty since the shelter-in-place order in March. But the kitchen is open.

Food once played a supporting role. Now, it's the star of the show during the pandemic.

"We're lucky. We have real chefs and we can actually go out and buy fresh ingredients," said Marcus Osborne, a manager with the theater. 

In April, the theater started the food crate program selling meals workers prepare.

"It's literally the thing that keeps the light on here. It's the life blood of this place right now," Osborne said.

The life blood are food crates people can purchase.

It costs $60 for a half crate which feeds two; $125 for a full crate that feeds 4.

One man said he purchases food from the theater regularly now that he cannot watch films there.

"This has been a beacon for me and my fiancé, our friends. We come here all the time. Try to shout it to the rafters about how great this place is," said Patrick Colford, a theater patron.

It's a place of community gatherings including hosting NFL stars to talk about social change in addition to showing movies.

Delivery is free for those ordering full crates in Oakland and nearby cities.

The theater said the program keeps 18 people employed. Patrons call it a win-win.

"I really love The New Parkway. Great local theater," said Bill Himmelsbach.

He and others said the food is good and it's sustenance to keep a unique theater alive.

"You can sit on couches. It's almost like watching movies at home. And it makes me sad that they had to close down during this whole pandemic time," Himmelsbach said. 

Some patrons said they make a purchase each week.

The theater manager said it's the community support that has kept it afloat. He said it will likely be four to five months before the theater can open again.  

Information on The New Parkway Theater's meal delivery program.