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Blue Starlite drive-in closes Mueller location, plans to open new spot in Central Austin

People sitting in chairs outside at night looking at a big screen.
Gabriel C. Pérez
/
KUT
The audience watches "Dazed and Confused" at the Blue Starlite drive-in theater in 2020.

The Blue Starlite drive-in movie theater closed its Mueller location this week with plans to open in a new spot next month. The exact location is still a secret to the public, but will be about 3 miles away.

Owner and founder Josh Frank says shutting down the venue of 14 years wasn’t an easy decision.

Over the years, the community has reminded him of their love for the Blue Starlite. Generations of families have watched films at the drive-in. Frank even met his future wife there, and today, their two kids help him run the place.

“That family aspect is something I want to hold onto as long as I can,” Frank said. “I want them [his kids] to be able to grow up with that experience.”

Frank says the new drive-in spot will have five screens and a dive bar reminiscent of the old days in Austin. He’s also teased other amenities on social media, including 3 acres of space for guests and RV-friendly options to watch movies.

“We’re going to be able to use this unused mini racetrack on the property as one of our screen experiences,” he said.

Frank had to take a step back from the business earlier this year to focus on his dad after he had surgery. He’s spent the last six months helping him recover.

“He’s my best friend and has always been my greatest support and cheerleader of every creative endeavor I’ve ever done,” he said.

Frank realized trying to keep the Mueller location open and transition to a new venue while caring for his father would create additional stress. He said he also needed to mourn the closing of the old venue before working on the new space.

While the grand opening is still a work in progress, Frank says he plans to have at least three screens operating by the second week of August. A second location in downtown Austin will remain open during the summer.

Frank said he loves to surprise guests, returning or new, with screenings ranging from indie films and cult classics to childhood favorites and new releases. He said he believes that's why Blue Starlite has had a lasting legacy and the endurance to create better moviegoing experiences.

“Keeping that light burning is so important to me,” he said. “It makes the struggle to keep a small business going worth it and to keep fighting the challenges, because there is a greater good.”

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