Owner of Virginia’s Family Drive-In dies from COVID-19

Drive-in theaters have been a popular, safe option for families looking to get out of the house during the coronavirus pandemic. But one Northern Virginia theater suffered a loss from COVID-19 this year.

Jim Kopp, owner of the Family Drive-In in Stephens City, Virginia, has died of COVID-19, Kopp’s family announced on Facebook on Thursday night.

The Family Drive-In has been operating in Stephens City, near Winchester, for 64 years, and WTOP’s Neal Augenstein first went to the theater because of the coronavirus.

“It was early in the pandemic and everyone was looking for a safe, fun thing to do,” Augenstein said. “They limited the number of families and cars. There was enough room to bring chairs that you could set up and sit outside.”

At full capacity, the theater can accommodate 484 cars and can provide movie sound through its own speakers or through car radio.

“My family saw a double feature of Jaws and Jurassic Park,” Augenstein said. “It was very resourceful, especially this past year, and it’ll be sad to not hear Jim Kopp’s voice next summer.”

Augenstein said customers could order drive-in food on an app and would receive a text when the food was ready. Despite some of the modern features, Augenstein said the Family Drive-In still had that nostalgic, drive-in feel.

“Jim Kopp was the host on the P.A. — very old-timey. They played the national anthem before the movies started,” he said. “When this pandemic is over, and we look back at things that helped us get through it, that visit to Jim Kopp’s Family Drive-In will be one of them.”

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