Fourth Generation: David Tashie carries on Malco Theatres’ traditions

Cinemas Features

This month, we focus on a rare and unique theatre executive, David Tashie, senior VP, operations and construction, at Malco Theatres, Inc. David represents not only the past 102 years of theatre advances, but also the future integration of theatre technology and service.

As circuits dwindle and consolidation mergers create mega-circuits, David Tashie continues to lead his family-owned, privately held business in an era of retooling. His humble roots offer an insight into Malco Theatres’ development; calm, reserved and prudent, he checks every detail for the highest-quality cinema experience. While he is a diehard Cubs fan, a Grizzlies “Believer” and an outdoorsman of sorts, he also represents a new generation in his family cycle of love of the cinema business

David Tashie is a life-long Memphian, born in Memphis, educated in Memphis and serving Memphis in multiple charitable sectors. He is of Greek heritage and proudly serves the Memphis community as co-chairman of the Greekfest, a Memphis tradition. He attended White Station High School and graduated with honors. He attended Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado and earned his B.S. in Business Management.

Tashie has always loved the outdoors and became a proficient kayaker while in college. One of his favorite pastimes was to whitewater kayak the Ocoee River with his Retriever onboard. “My family would take trips out west every summer. That is when I realized how much fun the outdoors had to offer,” Tashie recalls. “My grandfather, M.A. Lightman, Jr., had the biggest influence on me growing up—he had a lake house out in the country. I got to spend a lot of time with him learning life lessons and enjoying the outdoors.”

After graduating from CSU in 1998, David directed his attention to theatre management and began working with his father, Jimmy Tashie, in theatre design and construction for 20 years. He has worked on the renovation or construction of 17 Malco locations during his tenure.

“When I graduated from college, Malco was in the middle of an expansion mode that has really never slowed down. I have spent a lot of my time on our construction sites and with architects. I realized there was a lot more going on with this family business than I ever saw when I was 2,000 miles away in Colorado. I understood that someone was going to have to be the first fourth-generation family member to take the reins, so here I am 20 years later.” David decided to make a career decision to stay in the cinema channel. “I have been around the movie business my whole life and love watching movies on the big screen. Having the opportunity to oversee multiple theatres and the family bowling operations as a fourth-generation family member has persuaded me that this is a great fit.” Times have changed through the course of his tenure, and Tashie continues to see varied challenges in the industry.

Since his introduction to it, David has continuously excelled in this competitive channel of business. He was recognized in 2007 as one of the top 40 Memphis executives under the age of 40. He is a restaurant entrepreneur and operates Ciao Bella, a high-class eatery serving Italian cuisine. His success at Ciao Bella has come from his attention to detail, customer service and high-quality ingredients. “For the past ten years I have also operated the family restaurant in Memphis. I have learned a lot about the food and beverage industry and what makes people want to choose our restaurant over others.”

The same can be said about the theatre complexes in this era. “The fact that we are building larger kitchens in our theatres and offering expended menus with fully functioning bars, it creates more excitement about our food and beverage services.” Tashie sees these options becoming the greatest opportunities for growth in cinema food and beverage. “We know that the most important offerings we have, always had, are soft drinks, popcorn and candy—those serve as the brick and mortar of our business. Now we are employing restaurant workers with full F&B capabilities. The opportunity for us is to get our customers to spend the entire night out at the theatre.”  

Tashie says the principal challenge going forward is designing the perfect fit of economies in construction. “We work very closely with our architects to create/sculpt theatres that not only look a certain way but have a certain appeal. We also want the facility to function in the most efficient way. We try to make the best use out of every square inch of the building. Now more than ever, I pay a lot of attention to time and motion, from implementing designs to watching it function.”

As he contemplates whether he is a designer or artist, Tashie knows he must engineer the best entertainment complex within the budget allowed. “When we show movies, we are presenting someone else’s creation, and it is our job to do it the best way we can with all of the newest, state-of-the-art technology. With our food business, we are selling items that we are also creating. This is where having restaurant experience helps, because we can constantly see what is working and always keep menus updated.”

As for his “off-the-field activities” at Malco, David has always had a love for the Chicago Cubs—he makes at least one trek to the Windy City for a series every year. His real devotion is to his family and coaching his kids in various sports, through the seasons of basketball and baseball. His attraction to baseball continues in the movies, as his favorite film is Field of Dreams. His favorite actor is Harrison Ford. “The characters of Han Solo and Indiana Jones were a major part of my childhood,” he confesses. His favorite book: Walden by Henry David Thoreau. So there are no surprises here: Baseball, the outdoors and movies are David Tashie’s recipe for sovereignty.

David and his wife Chrissie have a son James, 10, and daughter Olivia, eight.