2016 ‘Youth Pleasant Enterprise’ named – The Mercury Information

The Los Gatos Theatre has been named the 2016 “Youth Friendly Business of the Year” by the town’s youth commission. The annual award is given to Los Gatos businesses that hire local youths and welcome them as customers.

The theater choice was a natural because, as owner Alicia Goetz pointed out, “We do hire kids and obviously, it’s a place for kids to come.”

Theater manager Daniel Ciarlo estimates that half of the theater’s patrons are tweens and teens, especially in the late spring and summer months when movie studios release films that are geared toward out-of-school kids with time on their hands.

Movie posters lining the lobby walls show ample evidence of that: The superhero film “X-Men: Apocalypse” opened last week, “Finding Dory” comes to the big screen on June 17 and the new “Ghostbusters” film is on the schedule for mid-July.

When teens and tweens go to the theater, the first person they often see is someone their age selling tickets, popcorn and candy. That’s the welcoming part of the equation.

And since nine of the theater’s 17 employees are high school students, it fit that youth-friendly requirement, too.

“Our target is to hire students who can stay with us for at least one year,” Goetz said.

Many, like 2015 Los Gatos High School graduate Jack Savage, stay longer. Savage was hired in April 2014 and continued to work at the theater while attending West Valley College. He plans to work through this summer and transfer to UC-Berkeley in the fall.

“It’s been a lot of fun, and I’ve met a lot of great people,” Savage said of his first-ever job. “It’s given me workplace skills, such as customer service and the ability to work with other people.”

Savage defined customer service as “doing your best to give guests the best experience possible and putting 100 percent into your work.”

In addition, Savage said he’s learned about how a movie theater functions and how a business is run.

“I also did some preshow voiceover work,” he said.

Another thing Savage likes about the theater is its flexible work schedule. “I work five to 15 hours a week,” he said. “It did not interfere with my school schedule. It’s a laid-back work experience.”

Ciarlo also used the words “laid back” to describe the theater’s employment atmosphere. “We’re very casual,” he said.

For many kids, this is their first job, so experience isn’t necessary but having a “friendly and personable” attitude is a must.

Scheduling availability is also important.

In addition to hiring and entertaining Los Gatos youths, the theater holds special showings of blockbuster films like “The Hunger Games” that benefit organizations such as the high school’s New Millennium Foundation.

The youth commission launched the Youth Friendly Business program eight years ago.

The Los Gatos Theatre is at 43 N. Santa Cruz Ave. For more information on the Youth Friendly Business program, contact community outreach coordinator Jackie Rose at or 408.354.6853.

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