By Amanda Sullivan, Fort Leonard Wood Public Affairs OfficeApril 14, 2022
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — Abrams Theater is now open for movies, graduations and other events, after a closure for renovations delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The improvements to the theater are part of an ongoing effort by Fort Leonard Wood senior leaders and officials from the Army and Air Force Exchange Service to provide amenities that service members, their families and civilians here have said they want. This also includes many new restaurants and food trucks that are either now open or opening soon.
The multi-purpose Abrams Theater is operated by AAFES as a fully-functioning movie theater on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, and hosts training graduations and other military events during the rest of the week.
According to Keith Lurie, an AAFES employee who supervises the movie theater operations, guests will notice floor-to-ceiling changes in the lobby and a brand-new snack bar. Among many other upgrades, movie-goers now have somewhere to put their beverages, thanks to new seats with cup holders, and they will experience the silver screen in a new light, due to a new sound system and digital projector.
Additionally, Lurie said the theater is now receiving movies on their first run, which means movie fans will no longer have to leave the post — or wait months — to watch new-release movies. Show times are available on the Exchange website.
The Army’s newest Soldiers and their families will benefit from the upgrades as well, said Maj. Mark Rice, 1st Engineer Brigade operations officer. The brigade manages the facility for the Directorate of Public Works.
“The renovations to Abrams Theater provided much needed updates to a facility that is frequently used to celebrate one of the first significant milestones in a Soldier’s career,” Rice said. “It provides Soldiers with a professional setting to commemorate this achievement, while also serving as a location for 1st Engineer Brigade and the rest of the installation to hold a variety of military ceremonies in a setting that appropriately suits the dignity of the events.”
Rice said beyond the ceremonies and graduations, the renovations to Abrams Theater will also contribute to improved morale for the trainees, service members and families who use the facility for recreation to watch and enjoy movies on the installation.
New food options on post
The theater is not the only improvement patrons will notice around the installation, said Donald Cantwell, AAFES general manager.
New food options have arrived, including two food trucks located in the Main Post Exchange parking lot — Bowl Gogi, serving Korean dishes, and JJ’s Wings N’ Things, serving hot wings and a variety of other foods.
For those with a sweet tooth, G’s Cupcake Euphoria held its grand opening inside the PX on April 6.
Customers can expect to see even more improvements and additions in the near-future, Cantwell said.
“The pandemic put a hold on a lot of things, but now that things are opening up, we are looking forward to making some new changes,” he said. “Our goal is to make the experience at Fort Leonard Wood better, and give customers more options — something different than what we have had here in the past.”
AAFES is currently working to bring three more food trucks to the PX parking lot, Cantwell said, and construction on the new Panda Express restaurant has begun in the PX food court. Additionally, Military Clothing and Sales in the Mini Mall, the South Shopette, and Charley’s in the PX food court are scheduled for upgrades this year, and construction will start on Einstein’s Bagels at the end of the month.
Cantwell said AAFES is always looking to make improvements. Businesses seeking to include locations on Fort Leonard Wood are encouraged to reach out to Maggie Colon, AAFES Services business manager, at 573.329.3587 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We are always looking for sources,” Cantwell said. “If somebody knows a food truck interested in coming to Fort Leonard Wood, let us know.”