How Santikos became San Antonio’s theater chain, and its plans for two new locations
SAN ANTONIO – You see the name on theaters across the Alamo City. Santikos is synonymous with movies and family entertainment.
The Santikos origins in San Antonio date back to 1911 when Louis Santikos founded the company and soon opened his first theater.
“One of the first theaters was a silent movie theater opened in the 20s,” said Tim Handen, Santikos CEO.
Santikos opened the Palace Theater in 1923 and expanded to drive-ins, including the Mission and San Pedro locations in the 1940s.
His son, John L. Santikos, later took over the company and took it to new heights, building the largest family-owned theater circuit in Texas.
“The oldest theater that we have today, there was a Santikos original theater opened up in the mid 70s and that would be the Northwest,” said Handren.
The popular and iconic Galaxy, Embassy, Bijou and Mayan theaters then followed.
Santikos was a visionary and wanted movie-goers to get the best experience possible.
He built modern day movie palaces such at the Silverado and Palladium.
“He had a penchant for looking at innovative technologies as they came out,” said Handren. “The only IMAX in town for a long time was his. I think he was progressive in that regard.”
Santikos also donated to several charities, programs for children and fell in love with the local arts scene.
Four years before he died in 2014 at the age of 87, he started to contemplate and later decided to donate the bulk of his estate to the San Antonio Area Foundation.
“He was a very philanthropic guy when he is alive. A lot of this community knows that he cared about the arts, cared about kids,” said Handren.
What he left in his will for these areas of interest, was that as money is plowed back into the San Antonio community, he said, I wanted to go into these areas that he really cared deeply about."
Today, with the guidance of the Area Foundation, profits from every purchase made at a Santikos location goes directly to local nonprofits, from the arts to culture to city parks, medical research and helping others in need.
The expansion is not expected to end anytime soon. The company recently announced plans to build two more locations.
Santikos announced the opening of its 10th theater in November. It will be housed in the Boerne Stage Crossing Shopping Center and is expected to open in 2021. It’s expected to be a more intimate setting.
The 11th location will be a state-of-the-art theater and entertainment center that will be located at Bulverde Road and Loop 1604.
“Each one of the theaters has its own character. It’s in a different part of the community and each one represents the community where it sits,” said Handren.
But the goal remains the same, to give back to the community that embraced John Santikos’s vision.
“It’s all for the benefit of this community in a way. This is San Antonio’s theater chain,” said Handren. “It’s wonderful to work at a company where the mission is clear and you’re doing something that is meaningful.”
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