Dustin and Laney Roths to expand business interests, buy Fox theater

By Randy Gonzales
Special to Hays Daily News
Dustin and Laney Roths have entered into an agreement to buy the Fox theater at 1202 Main.

When Dustin and Laney Roths bought the Strand theater in November 2019, they planned to host wedding receptions, along with live entertainment. The Strand’s bookings of weddings and live events have become so popular that the Roths have expanded their business interests.

The Roths have entered into an agreement to purchase the Fox theater at 1202 Main, with the sale to become final around June 1. Dustin Roths did not disclose the terms of the purchase, other than to say the couple paid more than Jacob and David Proffitt did when they bought the Fox from Hays businessman and farmer Allen States, and had a major restoration project for the property prior to opening in 2019.  They changed the name from the Fox Pavillion to The Uptown Fox, with an emphasis on fine dining. Brooks Kellogg had earlier bought the Fox after it had sat empty for two years, and gave it a facelift before opening in 2006.

Dustin Roths said a few changes to the interior are planned for the building, but that it is mainly a turnkey purchase. Before the Proffitts bought the building, Roths considered buying the Fox before purchasing the Strand, but that deal fell through. He is excited about this opportunity, and re-imagining the building’s purpose. Roths said there will be a name change, from The Uptown Fox to Fox Theatre.

“I think we’re going to get back to what is the great business model for it, which is to allow people to have events in there, to run it as the theater that it is, and do bands and entertainment,” Roths said. “This offered us an opportunity to copy-paste our Strand business into a venue that holds a few more people than the Strand does.”

Roths was unsure how many people the Fox can hold until he starts hosting events there, but estimated a capacity of about 450 to 500. He said the Strand can hold close to 300. The Fox will have a soft opening, primarily to check the sound system. The grand opening is scheduled for June 12. The opening act is Dueling Pianos, which was originally scheduled for the Strand. Martinelli’s Little Italy, an Italian restaurant in Salina, will cater the event. Tickets are $50, and a link to purchase tickets is on the Fox Theatre Facebook page. Roths believes bringing in bands and other live entertainment to downtown will be popular.

Roths already has some country bands scheduled for this summer, and he emphasized entertainment options will have different price points; there will be something for everybody. But bands will be a big part of it.

“I like live music,” Roths said. “The type of bands we’re bringing in are the type of live music that I really enjoy. We’ll add some genres that aren’t my cup of tea, but will diversify the groups of people that might want to come to our concerts.”

The Fox is the second commercial property bought by the Roths, after their purchase of the Strand at 1102 Main. Roths also owns Diamond R Jewelry, but does not own the property at 807 Main. Dustin Roths has a marketing degree from Fort Hays State University and Laney Roths has her master’s degree and teaches in the education department at the university. The Strand seemed like a perfect extension of the jewelry business, with engaged couples who purchased rings needing wedding venues. Now, the Fox increases those options.

“The Strand has done fine, financially, and that has helped us feel the Strand can help the Fox as we start trying to book it,” Dustin Roths said.

The Roths are majority owners of both the Strand and Fox, with a silent partner providing 20 percent ownership. Laney Roths said she was initially hesitant, but after talking it through the couple saw the Fox as having good potential.

“We care about downtown,” she said. “We want it to have something to offer. When the opportunity came up to talk it over, we took it as a sign to do that. We’re taking a little bit leap of faith and giving it a try.”