KAYSVILLE -- Kaysville Theatre owner Bill Call can't explain his businesses success.
"We don't know what we did," Call said laughing. "If I knew what it was for sure, I'd can it and sell it."
Call got into the movie theater business at age 10 to help his grandfather. In 1978, he and his family bought a Roy theater and it was there that Call developed his concept of a discount theater.
Call's family operated the theater in Roy until it was torn down to make way for a grocery store. He found a spot on Main Street in Kaysville and settled in. In 1991, Call did a $250,000 remodel of the theater and created two new auditoriums, replaced seats, expanded the restrooms, put in a new snack bar, and installed a new sign.
From a business standpoint, Call points to the overhead at bigger theaters as part of the reason tickets and concessions are more expensive. Most theaters don't own their buildings and pay a premium to run new releases, which results in higher costs being passed on to customers, he said.
Owning the property, doing most of the maintenance in-house and showing new movies a few weeks after larger theaters lets him to keep prices low. In a down economy where entertainment is one of the first items cut from the family budget, Call offers much-needed relief at the box office.
"If you take three kids to the big theaters, you're talking about a $50 night," Call said. "And that's before you get the overpriced popcorn and drinks. People have found us as a $10 night versus a $50 night."
The unconventional process of admitting customers at the Kaysville Theatre is all about speed. Doors open 15 minutes before show time, there are no tickets to tear, the snack bar is strategically set up and prices are rounded to the nearest dollar to expedite patrons and avoid crowding the cramped area.
It's a jumbled, seemingly unorganized and chaotic scene, and customers relish every minute of it.
"I love this theater," said Donna Persinger. "I live in West Point now but I'll always come back to this theater. Snacks are cheaper, getting in is fun, it's just a great part of Kaysville."
The theater typically runs smoothly night after night, but like any business, problem solving is a necessity and taking care of the customer is the most important goal.
One evening a movie-goer approached the snack bar and asked Call's grandson for an empty cup. The theater usually doesn't give out cups, as a way of saving money, but when the patron said it was to catch a drip coming down from the ceiling and there were no other seats to move to, they made an exception.
"He went back in happy," Call said. "He just wanted a cup to catch the water and he went back and watched the movie."
The leaky roof has since been fixed. Evidence of the reputation Call has built on the traditions of customer service and a good price is evident both in the lines out the door on weekends, and the nearly 2,000 friends of the theater who log memories on the Kaysville Theatre's Facebook page.
Call still counts his children, their spouses, and his grandchildren among his employees. Most have other full-time jobs and work at the theater as a part-time project.
There usually isn't much trouble finding employees outside the family to fill openings, however. Call prefers hiring teenagers with little or no job experience.
"We like to train from scratch," he said. "We don't particularly like when they have work experience because we have a very specific way of doing things and they have to be willing to work hard and have a good attitude. This is a lot of these kids' first jobs, and we prefer it that way."
Whether it's the family-run atmosphere, the prices, the premium-grade popcorn that fills the lobby with its intoxicating aroma, the refillable Kaysville Theatre mugs, the service with a smile, or the occasional leaky roof, Bill Call has tapped into something that the citizens of Kaysville and Davis County have grown to love and appreciate.
"There's a magic," he said. "And some of that is working with family and the ticket pricing, but the people of Kaysville are a big part of it. Our customers are really supportive, and as long as they keep coming, we'll keep doing it."