Hal Garrett, with Tammy Holmberg, holding a special award noting his support of “movie nights and local charities for almost 15 years.”

On a whim, Hal Garrett went to the mall 45 years ago to look for a job, which turned into a career that prepared him for his post-retirement employment with Delaware North, a global leader in hospitality and food service management.

As he steps into his new job at the AMALIE Arena, home of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Garrett took time to review his career from usher to top-level management at AMC Theatres.

“I always said I would leave the company on my terms, and that’s what I’m doing,” Garrett said. “I can’t say enough about all the things they’ve done for me and all the friends I met along the way.”

Garrett started his AMC career as an usher and gained box office, concessions and projection booth experience. Eighteen months in, “I became a supervisor, which was very quick, but back then AMC had only 17 theaters in the entire unit,” Garrett said. “Now we have 610. We’ve come a long way.”

So, too, has Garrett, who met his wife when she was a crew lead supervisor for AMC in Sarasota, where Garrett at the time was running two six-screen theaters in Sarasota. “To this day we are happily married, going on 34 years, and we have three great kids,” Garrett said.

Garrett’s career continued to advance, including opening the Pleasure Island 10-plex at Disney World, where he stayed until 1991, the year he moved into the AMC south division office as southern United States trainer. When AMC, after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, closed its offices in Clearwater and centralized division offices to corporate offices in Kansas, Garrett said he opted to stay in Florida. That led to various stints, including at Veterans 24 and Westshore 14 in Tampa Bay, where Garrett oversaw both operations.

Then came Garrett’s job in Brandon, with eight screens open in 1985 and 12 added in 1992. In its heyday, AMC The Regency 20 in Brandon was the largest theater in Florida, Garrett said. “We had the largest screens and we had the largest audience, reaching about 1.8 million people at one time,” he added.

The journey has been long and prosperous for Garrett, who noted his relationship with Tammy Holmberg, a Chick-fil-A franchisee and former honorary mayor of both Brandon and Riverview who worked with Garrett to reserve theaters for charity showings.

“We did 14 or 15 fundraising events over the years,” Garrett said. “Tammy and I go way back, with summer movie camp and dollar and free movies for kids. I really got to know a lot of movers and shakers in town, people with the YMCA and with all the charities that Tammy works with.”

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