The re-opening of the Pikes Theater, after a 30-year hiatus, is a welcome momentum-builder for Pikesville merchants, who have long needed positive news.
The twin digital cinemas at the Pikes, across from Jilly's, will draw more people to the community's commercial district along Reisterstown Road, which once was a thriving retail area.
When I was growing up, small shops flourished in Pikesville.
They included Reamer's clothing store, Rodger's Taproom (now Jilly's), David's Jewelers, Field's Pharmacy (and luncheonette), Mike and Jules Deli (succeeded by Suburban House) and - for old-timers - the Old Court Inn run by the Feldmans.
I used to get my hair cut at a men's barbershop a block from the fire station. I can still remember the striped, rotating barber pole out front.
But I couldn't get my locks shorn on Wednesdays after school.
Why? Pikesville merchants closed on that mid-week afternoon to take a break.
What a quaint and sensible custom.
Once upon a time, the Pikes Theater was part of a string of movie houses on Park Heights Avenue and Reisterstown Road - along with the Crest, the Uptown and the Avalon.
Thankfully, the new owner of the Pikes has restored the Art Deco exterior motif and its marquee.
The cinematic offerings are first-rate, too:
• The astounding Sandra Bullock "lost in space" suspense adventure, "Gravity," shown in 3-D.
• And a much-praised documentary, "Hava Nagila: The Movie."
Of that last film, the late critic Roger Ebert called it "a very satisfying, and at times, surprisingly moving, documentary about the inescapable Jewish anthem and wedding and bar mitzvah music staple."
We need a movie house like this one in the area.
The loss of the multiplex at the Valley Center (aka, the "pink shopping center") has left us bereft of cinematic options.
There used to be a wonderful discount movie house in the Reisterstown Shopping Center that was mobbed on weekends. It showed second-run films on the cheap. Now it's a Chinese buffet.
On Main Street in Reisterstown there once was a 500-seat movie house, the New Theatre. It opened in 1934 and closed in 1967 as the Squire Theater.
Then it was turned into a Sonny Surplus store. Now the building houses Bay Country Rentals.
Fortunately, the Art Deco façade remains.
The Pikes used to seat 600 patrons. Today, though, owner Ira Miller is willing to accommodate a fraction of that number in twin screening rooms, both with stadium seating.
Miller has an exemplary record running movie houses.
He operates the four-screen Rotunda Cinemas in Hampden and the six-screen Beltway Plaza Cinemas on Belair Road, which thrives with $3.50 tickets (for years it was $2).
The prices aren't that cheap at the new Pikes, but the quality of the current showings justifies paying more.
It's just nice to have movies showing once again in Pikesville.
Barry Rascovar, a Reisterstown resident, writes every other week for the Community Times.