Legislator John R. Ferretti Jr. first began receiving phone calls a month ago about a potential issue at the AMC movie theater, located at 3585 Hempstead Tpke. He then reported the complaints to the Nassau County Department of Health.
“It was not rats, but they found evidence of an infestation of mice,” Ferretti said. “They gave AMC a laundry list of things that needed to be done, including hiring exterminators, cleaning the rugs and closing off entry points.”
On July 2, Ferretti held a community meeting at the Levittown Public Library about rodents in the area, not just the AMC theater. One person told him a rat jumped on their shoulder while watching a movie.
“I told them [the health department] that I wanted to accompany them on their next inspection,” he said. “It just so happens the next inspection was the following day, July 3.”
Ferretti walked through the kitchen with the inspectors, but no rodents were in sight. They did, however, see traps and droppings in other areas of the facility.
Soon after, they headed to one of the main theaters. That’s when they knew this was truly a problem. The inspectors lifted the curtain underneath the screen, and the result was not a pretty one.
“There were 10 to 15 mouse traps and the bait was missing on all of them, except for one,” he said. “The first recliner that we pushed up to look at the mechanism area had droppings in the recliner. In a third recliner, the padding and cushioning was moved.
“I kicked the recliner and two mice came out from inside the recliner. This was at about 4:20 p.m. and there was a 4:30 p.m. showing of Spider-Man. People were lined up outside the theater, and AMC and the department of health were willing to let people in the theater, but I said, ‘Absolutely not.’”
The AMC Dine-In, part of a national program to include a restaurant in a movie theater, has been shut down—for now—following the inspection. The inspectors evidently shut down the auditorium that Ferretti saw the mice in. Later that night, a team of inspectors went through the theater and inspected each auditorium individually.
The theater is not allowed to reopen until the Nassau County Department of Health clears it.
“They inspected three auditoriums and shut down those three,” he said. “Then, AMC voluntarily decided to close the whole place. They saw the way the inspection was going.”
The movie theater lies inside the Nassau Mall. Some members of the community reported they have never seen any issues inside of the AMC Dine-In. Many are shocked about the report.
“We’ve been there many times before and after they fixed it up and put the reclining seats and food service in, and we’ve never seen a rat in there,” Christopher Pizzaia, a resident, said. “It’s pretty clean inside for the most part.”
The AMC added the restaurant section about two years ago. The extra food in the facility, plus its surroundings, could have prompted this issue to arise.
“Other than the traps outside the building (which honestly, I’ve seen around a number of other businesses in town), I’ve never seen a single sign of rodent activity in the theater,” Tom Flynn LaSusa said. “Nevertheless, I’m glad for the swift action taken.”
It is unknown when the theater will open its doors once again. The good news for the theater, though, is people are eager for its return.
“Never saw anything,” Katherine Rose said. “Will definitely be back, but will probably skip the food and popcorn.”
Update: The theater reopened on July 16.