GOOCHLAND COUNTY, Va. -- After eight years of trying, the Goochland Drive-In, which was recently rated a top five drive-in movie theater in the country, will have their logo placed on an “attraction” sign on Interstate 64.
Owner John Heidel said some of his customers get lost trying to find their location in a rural part of Goochland County. Customers from as far away as Maryland or North Carolina routinely drive past exit 152, according to Heidel.
"We had multiple situations where a gentlemen would come home from work on Friday evening to find 20 cars lined up down his driveway,” Heidel said.
The Goochland Drive-In is one of five drive-in movie locations in Virginia.
The problem, according to Heidel, was that the state would not allow the logo on an attraction sign because it was not permitted. A spokesperson for VDOT said movie theaters are not allowed to advertise on interstate attraction signs.
Heidel took his concerns to state delegate John McGuire. The freshman lawmaker submitted a bill that would allow Virginia drive-ins to place their logos on attraction signs.
However, before the legislation went to a committee, McGuire set up a meeting with Heidel and state representatives who regulate the interstate signs. Following the meeting, VDOT said they would allow Goochland Drive-In to put their logo on the sign and McGuire withdrew the bill.
VDOT said since the drive-in is a tourism destination they made an administrative exception in this case.
"There really is nothing like teamwork to bring out the best in people and get things done, but sometime the best bill is no bill at all,” McGuire said.
More than 1,100 people reacted to the news on social media. Heidel said he knows there are bigger problems to fix in the state, but he feels like VDOT’s decision is “validation” for his small business.
"For drive-ins, for all Virginia small businesses in a way, this lets folks know that things can happen. Polite persistence pays off,” Heidel said.
The logo will be installed within the next 45 days, McGuire said. The drive-in will pay for the entire cost of the installation.