ShowEast and the National Association of Concessionaires have announced that the 2022 ShowEast Icon Award will be presented to the entire motion picture exhibition industry, as represented by three unique companies and people: Marcus Theatres represented by Rob Novak, Santikos Theatres represented by Rob Lehman and Cranford Theatres represented by Doreen Sayegh are each credited with leading the NAC, and the exhibition industry out of the pandemic and into recovery.
The Icon Award will be presented to these three companies and individuals at ShowEast on October 20 at Loews Miami Beach Hotel.
“We are extremely proud to be able to honor these three individuals and their respective companies with helping lead our industry into a post-pandemic world,” said Andrew Sunshine, co-managing director of ShowEast. “Their leadership and proactive actions allowed the industry to learn what needed to be done to move forward. The industry owes a debt of gratitude to these three industry veterans for sharing their experiences and showing us the way to recovery.”
Marcus Theatres was the largest theatre chain to share their story and experiences. Rob Novak detailed some of the changes they made to their concession’s menu during reopening, cleaning and sanitizing protocols, curbside concessions, packaging changes, and more. He also detailed how they were able to show movies outside of some of their venues and more.
Santikos Theatres was the first exhibitor to reopen, and Rob Lehman led NAC reopening calls sharing the challenges. He was honest, open, and forthright in outlining the problems he had to overcome from all sides and shared his successes, failures, and pivots during the process.
Doreen Sayegh of Cranford Theatres spent hours telling the NAC membership how a small independent could work with local government to create a safe place for families to enjoy movies outdoors, and how she was able to create a drive-in from scratch at one of the local pools in Cranford, New Jersey. She walked membership through building a drive-in from the ground up, and how to work with the local government to pull off an incredible experience that the community and the local government not only believed in, but embraced to make the endeavor a huge success, thus saving the theater industry in their town.
Sayegh shared some of the creative marketing programs she put together, teaming with local businesses, which led to a huge success for every showing at her pop-up drive-in.
Novak is senior vice president of food and beverage for Marcus Theatres and Movie Tavern by Marcus. After 16 years of managing theatres, Novak shifted responsibilities and for the past nine years he has been using his understanding of business operations to grow food and beverage offerings across 85 theatres in 17 States under the Marcus Theatres, Movie Tavern by Marcus, and BistroPlex brands.
He is responsible for the direction, menu development, and oversight of concession and food and beverage operations throughout the circuit and is a member of the Marcus Theatres executive team. Included in that portfolio are three full-service Zaffiro’s restaurants and nearly 30 Zaffiro’s Express outlets, about a dozen Reel Sizzle outlets, and nearly 50 lobby/bar restaurants branded as Take Five Lounge and The Tavern, and more than 30 locations that offer in-auditorium dining.
Novak played an integral role in launching BistroPlex, a concept that features all-intheatre dining and puts a much greater focus on the food. He was instrumental in integrating Movie Tavern into the Marcus Theatres portfolio in 2019.
Lehman is currently the chief operating officer of Santikos Entertainment and has been since 2017. In his role as COO, Lehman is responsible for operations, training, marketing, gaming, projection, loss prevention and food and beverage. Santikos currently has 10 locations all in the San Antonio, Texas market.
Lehman has more than 25 years of experience in the film exhibition industry, with prior tenure at Kerasotes Theatres where he started as a manager trainee and then took over the food and beverage department from 1999 to 2010. After consulting for Rave Motion Pictures for a year and then working at Continental Concession Supplies, he went to work at Carmike Cinemas in 2013 as vice president of food and beverage.
From a young age, Doreen Sayegh developed the passion for the movie theatre industry through her mentor and father, Jesse Y. Sayegh, an independent movie theatre owner. Growing up in a family of theatre owners, Doreen learned everything she knew about the business, from selling concessions, daily operational management, strategic marketing, and national partnerships, to being her own independent owner today. She also worked as the vice president of alternative programming for Digiplex Destinations and Carmike Cinemas as well as consulting for Screenvision Media on distribution of alternative content.
She decided to renovate The Cranford Theatre in 2019 and bring Cranford’s hometown theater back to life for people of all ages to enjoy. The unfortunate circumstances of the pandemic impacted everyone and after the grand opening of The Cranford Theatre in November 2019, Sayegh was forced to shut the doors like most business owners. She immediately pivoted into selling on-the-go concessions and creating at Home Movie Packs and Holiday Gift options for sale.
In parallel, Sayegh began the design and execution of the Cranford Theatre Drive-In, which was wildly successful and created a place to not only create memories but a safe place where friends and families could gather in a socially distanced and safe manner. This was her way of giving back and helping others, which brought the community together at a time of complete uncertainty.
During its run, the drive-in also conducted outreach programs to further support families facing hardships as a result of the pandemic including: several food, school and cleaning supply drives, holiday gift wrapping supply assistance, raised money for Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation and partnered with the Cake Boss to raise money for the Children’s Specialized Hospital.