It’s one thing when you see big businesses and national chains closing as a result of our overreaction to the COVID-19 pandemic. But when you see small innovative businesses that do so much for the heart and culture of a town dying, it���s heartbreaking.

I am sure Gov. Phil Murphy has never heard of ShowRoom Cinemas. He may not even know anyone who has heard of ShowRoom.

ShowRoom cCnemas were small independent movie theaters with heart. The original in Asbury Park was a place that helped bring art and culture to the forefront of the town. At ShowRoom, a tiny independent theater that then branched into a Bradley Beach location, taking over an old single screen theater, you could see small independent films that you couldn’t see anywhere else. You could see documentaries and early releases of films that would later turn out to get Oscar nods.

Local artists in small festivals could show their films there when they obviously would never get screen time at any of the big chains. ShowRoom was unique and something that a community like Asbury Park needed. It breathed life and vitality into the town and exemplified what art really is.

When COVID-19 hit, its owners understood that continuing to operate would be a challenge. But, then when theaters were finally allowed to open with only a capacity cap, the writing was on the wall. Because of our long national nightmare and the continued exaggeration of it, theaters in New Jersey can now only have 25% capacity with a maximum of 150 people.

Some of ShowRoom's small screening rooms barely sat 50 people. This might work for the big guys, but not for the small innovative theaters like ShowRoom. Another small business bites the dust in New Jersey. I will miss it so much, as will the multitudes of people who enjoyed the cool, unique experience of watching a film there. I wonder if Phil Murphy is losing any sleep over it.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Judi Franco. Any opinions expressed are Judi's own.

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