Roths: Downtown Hays on the uptick with added entertainment

By Randy Gonzales
Special to Hays Daily News
Dustin Roths’ plans for the Fox include a wedding venue and live music.

Dustin Roths, who grew up in the small Ness County town of Ransom, feels a strong connection to what the locals fondly call Hays, America.

Roths, who owns Diamond R Jewelry on Main Street, wants to help make downtown Hays a vibrant and vital part of the community. He purchased the historic Strand theater on Main in November 2019, and by June he will have completed purchase of another historic landmark with the acquisition of Fox theater at 1202 Main.

“The reason I like downtown, it seems it’s the core of the community,” Roths said. “I think downtown is on an uptick, with how well our art walks do, adding now a little bit more entertainment. I like what some of the other entrepreneurs are doing around here. I like the look of downtown; I love the feel of downtown.”

Roths’ plans for the Fox include a wedding venue like the Strand, only bigger. Also like the Strand, Roths wants live entertainment, including booking bands as often as possible.

“I’ve watched too many great professionals in this community leave because there wasn’t anything to do,” Roths said.

The first big event for Roths at the Fox will be on June 12, featuring Howl2Go, the traveling version of Howl at the Moon Dueling Pianos in Kansas City, Mo.

“They’re kind of top end, but when you do it as your first event” you want somebody good, Roths said.

Opening night will be catered by Martinelli’s Little Italy, an Italian restaurant in Salina. Roths wanted something different, and Hays does not have a dedicated Italian restaurant and caterer.

“Four course meal, Italian, really isn’t available out here,” Roths said.

Later in the summer, Roths has a number of country bands already booked and is looking at bringing other groups to Hays. It’s all part of making downtown the place to be.

“I think part of the reason why Hays is growing and doing as well as it is, is partially because of downtown,” Roths said. “Certainly now, Hays is my hometown. It is what I want to succeed.

“I’m excited to watch Hays grow, and be a part of it,” he added. “I’m super excited about the other entrepreneurs around me.”

In addition to live music and being a wedding venue, the Fox could host other types of events, Roths said, including films. The Fox opened April 12, 1950, with the movie “The Outriders” starring Joel McCrea. March Madness on the big screen to cornhole tournaments and everything in between is a possibility. Roths added that the cigar bar will remain, as will private lockers. Now with two venues, Roths is adding a full-time manager.

“All things are on the table,” Roths said. “When I see things, how great they can be, it kind of gets my creative juices flowing.”