Tim Obelgoner didn’t waste any time getting to work Wednesday.
After a late Tuesday announcement that he’s assuming management duties at the Cox Capitol Theatre on Second Street, Obelgoner was there first thing in the morning.
He has big plans for the theater and believes he knows why efforts to make money there have sputtered in the past.
“Day one is busy,” Obelgoner said Wednesday afternoon standing inside downtown’s Hummingbird Stage & Taproom.
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He’s also the general manager there.
“We’re getting all of our communications in place to get people to understand what working relationships will be. That’s important,” he said.
Obelgoner has a tough task before him -- to make the struggling theater economically viable.
“The theater is an important and valuable piece of Macon history and architecture,” he said.
The theater first opened its doors in 1916. After a long run, it closed in 1976 and was neglected for several years. After a huge restoration project that started in 2003, the theater reopened in 2006.
The size of the Capitol is perfect for this market, Obelgoner said. “It’s not too big, it’s not too small. It’s perfect for this area.”
But it’s going to take more than that to make the theater economically sound.
“The management of the events, activities and concessions are going to be key to our success,” said Obelgoner. “We’re going to bring an unparalleled level of marketing and public relations” to the theater.
Ruth Ashmore also started work Wednesday at the theater. Obelgoner brought her on as director of sales. Ashmore, who studied business and marketing in college, formerly held two positions downtown at the same time working at the Tic Toc Room and the Rookery.
“It’s exciting to be a part of this,” she said. “It’s going to be a lot different ... bringing something to life that needs it.”
Developing a consistent audience at the Capitol is a priority for the new manager.
“One thing we’ve been successful with at the Hummingbird is that it has become a destination for local residents,” Obelgoner said. “I have people tell me it’s their home away from home.
“We want the Cox Capitol to be one of their top choices for entertainment and nightlife.”
Obelgoner believes the Hummingbird and Capitol will serve two different markets, but not “from the standpoint of bands,” he said.
“Maybe the Cox will be a little more upscale,” Obelgoner added. “I expect the clientele to be different ... I expect to see a few more ties” at the Capitol. “Being successful in the hospitality and services industry is how you meet the needs of your customers.
“It goes beyond the establishment. It’s all about the experience,” Obelgoner said. “When people come into the Cox Capitol, we want them to have an experience they can’t have any other place.”
One of the biggest issues at the Capitol since it reopened, Obelgoner said, is that the theater has an identity crisis.
“Our biggest problem to overcome is the identity of the Cox Capitol,” he said. “We need to quickly decide who we are and what we’re going to be.”