The historic Landis Theater in Vineland New Jersey and its owners needs your help.
The Landis Theater is owned and operated by Ray Mamrak and Kaycee Zelkovsky who have been forced into having to put this landmark up for sale due to the of state mandates closing them down amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.
If they are forced to sell this magnificent property, built in 1937, that holds so much history and memories from people all around the state it could be purchased by and entity that could retrofit this prime corner piece of real estate into anything. A bank, a drug store, a retail space, or anything that is not a theater as its main attraction.
They need your help. They do not want to sell.
Built in 1937, the theater was the flagship buiding of Landis Avenue in Vineland, NJ. It had seen the end of its days as it sat delapodated and vacant through the late 90's. In 2007 developer Hans Lampert and his wife Lori DiMatteo-Fiocchi took on the task of restoring The Landis to its old glory. In doing so, they went above and beyond expectations, creating a beautiful spectical that USA Today even listed as one of the best places to see when visiting New Jersey.
After Hans and his wife finished and departed, the building started to fall into disrepair again; all of thier amazing work left in the hands of less caring and less qualified people. Until Ray Mamrak and Kaycee Zelkovsky came to her rescue and got the old girl back up and running like never before.
Ray and Kaycee were ready to announce their full line up of concerts, live stage shows, and even a summer camp for the 2020 season, until Covid-19 struck them down. They were also renovating the restaurant and bar side of the property into, Kaycee Ray’s Sports Bar and Pub. Mandates from the state and Governor Phil Murphy have kept this glorious landmark and its adjacent restaurant closed since March 16th, 2020. It is going on one half of a year of no revenue at all and the bills keep piling up and up and up.
Ray and Kaycee put all their efforts during the shutdown in continuing to rehab the restaurant and systematically repair the theater from years of abuse and neglect. They continued working day and night with hopes that the ban would be lifted, or relief would come from the government as it did for many larger businesses, except those in the entertainment and hospitality industries. Kaycee’s father, Eddie Zelkovsky, a construction and rehab professional, has also donated his time, efforts, and money into keeping the dream alive as the world navigates through this pandemic.
Over the past year or more Ray and Kaycee have dedicated their time, money, and all efforts into repairing and rehabbing The Landis, a state and federally recognized historic landmark in Vineland, New Jersey.
The pair had a lender giving them a $900k line of credit to finish the place and get their efforts under way for their first full season. The money was held back because the lending entity was afraid that under this pandemic shut down by the state that they would not see their money retuned and the pair would default.
The two continued their efforts hoping for an end or some type of help or relief. They have stretched every dime during the pandemic shut down with Kaycee saying, “We have resorted to somewhat professional craft making to keep costs down and the project still going.” Kaycee continued to say, “People think we are rich. We have everything into this place. I drive a car with the paint peeling off and Ray drives an old 2006 van my dad gave him. We are all in.”
As a cry for help they have put the building up for sale. “We don’t want to sell. We love this place and this city. Almost a half of a year with no revenue has put us in a horrible financial position with no help in sight. Even if they did allow us to open at 25% capacity, we still have 100% of the overhead and six-month’s worth of bills to catch up on. Without financial assistance we can’t possibly keep this dream alive," said Ray.
Through the Christmas season in 2019 Ray and Kaycee decorated the theater. During the City’s annual Christmas Parade Ray and Kaycee opened their doors to the community. Mary Ann Jordan a ninety-one-year-old lifetime volunteer at the theater said, “In all my time since a child at the theater I have never seen it decorated this way for the holidays.” Ray and Kaycee opened their door to a free showing of ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ and other holiday classics. They gave away free cookies and hot chocolate to all that came through the door. “Kaycee dressed up like an elf and walked the street giving away hot chocolate,” Ray said. In addition, they had a Santa for the kids and gave away free polaroid photos to all that sat on Santa’s lap. A craft station was also set up where kids could make holiday decorations and have fun. Everything was free to the community. Ray and Kaycee live with a dedication to the arts, giving back, and helping others.
Ray and Kaycee were also working with the City and county to transform a vacant school across the street from the theater into a school for the arts. Ray stated, “We had all kinds of great plans in the works, and it has all started to fall apart because of this pandemic and the shut down.” The pair met with city and county officials along with the President of Rowan college, Fred Keating, to work together to make the vacant school into a thriving arts school with the college and its sister University, Rowan University. “Kaycee and I aren’t here to fill our pockets. That’s evident in all we have spent and the debt we have incurred. We love the community and were on our way to help in revitalizing the city in any we could. Then we were forced to close.”
Ray and Kaycee have shown over and over their dedication to this historic landmark as well as their dedication to the community and the arts as a whole. They have always given and never asked for anything. Now, they desperately need all the help they can get to keep this place and their amazing work with the community and the City of Vineland alive.