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Scarlet Oak To Offer Drive-In Movies

By Jason Alexander
Updated June 11, 2020

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Scarlet Oak Tavern. [Hingham Current News File Photo / Kristen Arute]

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On Tuesday night, the Board of Selectmen voted to allow Scarlet Oak Tavern to hold drive-in movies on Tuesday nights from June 19th through July 14th.  This will be offered in conjunction with the restaurant’s take-out dining service, and the potential exists for it to continue for the rest of the summer.  Meals will not be delivered to cars, but tables will be set up where people will be able to pick up their food orders.  Alcohol consumption of moviegoers will be prohibited.

“We just want one night during this crazy time to have a small amount of people come down to the restaurant safely and be able to watch a movie,” said General Manager Kenny Robichaud. “We are just doing this to make a memory to keep Scarlet Oak in the local community and to try to be a restaurant that really wants to be out there for the guests and for the local community.”

The entertainment license would allow the restaurant to sell tickets for up to 32 vehicles to park in the rear parking lot and view a movie.  That section of the parking lot can fit 74 cars; however, due to social distancing requirements, the cars would be spaced further apart.  On the phone were members of the Staff Reopening Team who, according to Town Administrator Tom Mayo, “have been working diligently to provide for a safe and appropriate reopening of our restaurants using all the tools made available to us from the State.”

Workplace standards for drive-in movie theaters were issued by the state on May 18th.  Following that, Scarlet Oak applied for a license.  Their request was circulated through a working group consisting of the health, building, fire and police departments.  “In general, the group supports the application and feels it can be conducted in a safe manner and provide a nice service to the community and help the restaurant get back into business,” said Senior Planner Emily Wentworth.

Both police and fire would be on location on the first night to assess the situation.  “We would be there to ensure that everything was safe and vehicle access would be unimpeded in the event of an emergency,” said Sergeant Jeff Kilroy of the Hingham Police Department. “We would also outline an evacuation plan.”  Lt. Chris DiNapoli, Fire Marshal for the Hingham Fire Department, assured the Board that he and Sgt. Kilroy and would make adjustments “on the fly” if needed.  “With everything that’s been going on the last few months, there’s going to be some trial and error,” he said, “but I think it can be done safely and be done right.”  Chief Olsson pointed out that, as with all entertainment licenses, they have “the right to reconsider if everything doesn’t work out.”  A detail officer will be on site to assist with exiting at the end of the movie.

A State environmental law prohibits the idling of cars beyond a certain amount of time.  Information to that effect would be handed out to attendees, and compliance would be reviewed during the first showing.  Abutters had not been notified; however, Kenny pointed out that surrounding businesses are closed at that time of night.  It was also determined that no residential communities would be impacted by the light of the screen or by the audio which would come though the stereo systems inside guests’ cars.  Restroom facilities will be available inside the restaurant for movie-goers and clearly taped off for social distancing purposes.

Once the restaurant is able to reopen, parking lot capacity will be reevaluated.  A zoning formula requires one parking space for every three seats, and there was much discussion about how parking requirements would be impacted by the reopening phases and restaurant seating availability during those phases and on the particular days and times the movies would be shown.  All aspects would be reevaluated after July 14th.

Tickets for upcoming movies can be reserved here.

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Scarlet Oak Tavern. [Hingham Current News File Photo / Kristen Arute]