North Towne Mall is still littered with empty storefronts, but the opening of a movie theater is a potential catalyst to help the mall recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

DEFIANCE, Ohio — Defiance’s North Towne Mall opened his new Phoenix Theatres Thursday and owner Corey Jacobson had record attendance.

“In the hour and a half since opening, there were more people here than the entire weekend last year,” Jacobson said.

Phoenix theaters do what other theaters struggle with: get people to go to the movies.

As for Jennifer Dunson, she had the opportunity to take her son Logan for a fun time at the movies. Maybe it was an opportunity she didn’t have.

“I work in the third shift. I ended up taking the day off so we could catch the movie. I didn’t have to worry about going to work,” Dunson said.

Hearing this positive review, Jacobson and Jordan Hochman, who are responsible for developing the Phoenix Theaters project, beamed with pride.

“It’s something you do for a baseball game, not for a movie theater. But, you know, I’m flattered. I’m thrilled,” Jacobson said.

Not only he is delighted with the positive reception of the theater. Jack Johnson, owner of the North Towne Mall Hawks Clothing Store, said the mall isn’t the only place to benefit from the crowds the theater draws.

“It’s definitely what Defiance needs,” Johnson said. “Not everyone wants to deal with the crowds in Franklin Park. It’s easy to shop here.”

The opening of the theater is a potential catalyst to help the mall recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, Homan said. The North Towne Mall is still littered with empty storefronts. Phoenix Theaters renovated the theater, which had been closed since June.

“We want to see people coming from the west side of Toledo, the Fallen Timbers area, as well as Fort Wayne, Indiana,” Homan said.

Johnson said he has been at the mall since it opened nearly 40 years ago. He’s seen stores come and go and believes the movies will bring new life to the mall.

“It’s going to attract all kinds of people to this part of the world,” Johnson said.

The North Towne Mall open from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM, Monday through Saturday. On Sundays, it is open from noon to 5 p.m Phoenix Theatres will show movies from 9 am to 11 pm

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