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dinner & a movie--


zoe b
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we're visiting my step son and he's been talking about this idea--anyone have thoughts about this--whether a good or bad idea?

I'm thinking it would be terribly expensive to set up--state of the art movie equipment, liquor licenceseating, restaurant kitchen, large staff--I can't imagine it being a money maker.

although when we were in Costa Rica we ate at a really fun restaurant--a roof only on the sand, tables and a bar and a huge sheet for a movie screen==you could see all kinds of odd movies and eat an ok dinner and drink beer all night--for not much money at all.

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I saw this concept on tv once. I thought it was pretty neat idea. They had table service, full bar. I like it.

In Barrington, IL, there was a theater and sandwich shop in the same building. People were encouraged to bring their sandwiches and snacks into the theater, which was connected to the shop with a door between them.

"It's better to burn out than to fade away"-Neil Young

"I think I hear a dingo eating your baby"-Bart Simpson

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Dinner and a movie is being done all over the country right now. Here in Providence RI, the Providence Place Mall cinemas have a wine bar and café in the lobby, for example -- and of course most mall cinemas have a food court nearby.

But I think you may be thinking more along the lines of the Castle Cinema Café. Before its demise, it operated as both a stand-alone restaurant and as a wait-staffed service within the cinema itself. They had converted an old theater into this set-up, and it died after a few years of not very strong activity. Part of that had to do with location, but part of it had to do with execution as well, I think.

I went only twice, and I think that the comparison is worth noting. One time was for a raucous Elvis impersonation contest, at which the servers interrupting and the fairly lame appetizer food (see the The Providence Phoenix review for details) didn't really take away from the experience. Another time I went to see a film I was eager to watch attentively, and the service disruptions and not-so-good food were more an annoyance than part of the fun. Missing a few seconds of a toddler Elvis to get my buffalo wings I can live with; missing a few seconds of crucial plot for them is another matter.

I don't think that there's much additional challenge to managing a restaurant and cinema in the same complex save, well, the challenges of managing both a restaurant and a cinema. I'm also not sure I see the point. For example, before the café opened up, I'd do like we all do: grab a bite at one of several restaurants in that area and get to the cinema just before the previews roll.

I think that the restaurant-in-a-cinema could be figured out with a little help from a smart interior or restaurant designer: effective layout for service and sightlines; easy-to-eat menu items; small tables that can accommodate enough space for food but allow for packing viewers into the seats. You've also got the benefit of movie goers being used to paying titanic markups for movie food. However, it's hard to imagine most people wanting to combine those two experiences. Do you really want to eat good food in the dark? Do you want to shift your gaze from screen to plate to screen over and over? Fun finger food I can understand, but beyond that....

Now, if you really want to improve the experience of watching films in the US, I'll just say that I'd settle for a swell pint of bitters as I watch my flick, as I did at the Curzon Soho in London.

Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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A movie theatre/restaurant is like an extension of a dinner theatre theme.

All of the dinner theatres I know of, including the one I work at (ops manager) it is either dinner, then the show, or the dinner is several courses in between scenes. We stop food/bar service when the show is on.

I can imagine it would be quite messy to try to have food service and/or people eating while trying to watch the show.

I have been to places that show older movies without the sound on a screen like the one in costa rica you went to.

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The Alamo Draft House in Austin has been doing this for years:

food and film

A couple of things make it work. First of all, the chefs are good. Really good. Second, the food is quirky: matches the movie a lot of the time, so it's a themed meal. Here comes the Simpsons movie!

"From the moment we heard there was going to be a Simpsons movie, our imaginations kicked into overdrive. It would be a crime not to offer up a feast of truly Homeric proportions. That means you can expect such Springfield delicacies as a Homer Simpson sized Pork Chop seasoned to perfection, Blinky the three eyed fish (non-radioactive by request) and Chief Wiggum’s Chili featuring “the merciless peppers of Quetzlzacatenango”, which may or may not send you on a spiritual journey through time and space. We might even find room on the menu for a very special donut and a mug or two of Duff beer. If you miss out on this, it will be the D’oh heard round the world."

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This was tried for a few years in Manhattan, as The Screening Room, which opened in Tribeca in 1996. Three course dinner and a movie were a set price (a la carte menu also available), and the movies tended to art house fare.

Food there was very good, in fact, so good that the location spawned a food-only outpost, The Dining Room, on the Upper East Side. Unfortunately, both shuttered in 2002. I thought it was a great concept, and particulary great in execution, having reliably good food along with reliably interesting films. But for whatever reason, the concept couldn't sustain in this case...

Christopher

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We have a place that like that in my hometown. It's actually pretty cool. The food is just OK--standard pizza, burgers, salads, chicken fingers, etc...but the real draw is the liquor and alcohol...pitchers of beer and a comedy? Great fun.

They did some tasty stuff like caramel popcorn, etc. Like I said, didn't really go for the food, moreso the alcohol. But it was fun.

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