Monday, July 23, 2012

Bar & Grill & Movie Theater

Posted by Benson

I think this is where we went, but admittedly I got very lost on the way there. 

Bar & Grill & Movie Theater - How have I not known about this phenomenon?

I recently went to Dallas for work and I went to see a friend of mine who lives in the area.  He suggested that we go to one of the most wonderful places imaginable: a movie theater that is also a bar and grill, that serves you while the movie is playing!  I was astonished.

Now, I have gathered that such places have existed for a while now, and that many of you may be thinking that I must have been oblivious for the past decade.  I would vehemently agree.  I do not understand how I did not know such places existed, but I am now mercifully in the know.

This is perfectly fine if all you're looking for is a movie on the big screen

I have seen movie theaters that serve beer, and ones that also have a substantial menu.  I have also heard of, but have not been to, theaters that allow you to enjoy the substantial menu while the movie is playing.  But the place I went to in Dallas was a true synthesis of the bar and grill and movie theater.

We were given full menus upon entering the theater, and the lay-z-boy-like seats were equipped with a call button.  When we wanted to order we pressed the call button and the waiter came right up to us in the theater, took our orders, and eventually returned with cold beer, nachos, and burgers.  They key here is that this all happened while the movie was playing, which is what I found so astounding.

But can't you have this too?

Obviously, this is an amazing innovation.  I am a huge fan of cinema, and I certainly appreciate why viewers would want to eschew such an experience.  It obviously encourages disruption of the film, however mild.  Even so, there are many movies during which I would find mild disruption to be not only acceptable, but laudable.  For example, the move we went to see that night was The Dictator with Sacha Baron Cohen.  It is an amusing movie, but definitely the kind of thing that is only ever enhanced by a trio of beers, a hot plate of nachos, and an atmosphere amenable to a tasteful amount of commentary and conversation.

This about sums up the movie.  It doesn't really go very far from this.

Ultimately, it feels more like watching a movie in your own amazingly awesome home theater than in a proper movie theater, which is the appeal.  Going to a movie with friends can often wind up being a rather staid experience in which the only appeal of going as a group (unless you also have before and/or after plans) is that the personal experience of seeing the movie becomes an experience shared with others.  Yet the depth of such a shared experience tends to be rather shallow, and primarily limited to the temporal linkage of the viewings, for even if you and I see the same film at slightly different times, we can still have a substantively similar conversation about it later.

There's little, if any, interaction in a theater (excepting of course two people on a date in which case the situation is entirely different).  You watch the movie in relative silence, not always even seated close to one another, and you leave. If the principle motivation of the outing is because you want to see the movie, that's perfectly fine.  In fact, I am a very strong proponent of silence in a movie theater.  If I am there to watch a movie, I want to watch the movie without interruptions.

Unless you're necking or ruining the movie with talking,
going to the movies might as well be like this regardless of who you're with

This is why I think that the bar & grill & movie format is such a great thing.  It is a much more social environment because it is not marred by the expectation of complete silence.  It can't possibly be, because the waiters walk right into the theater and take orders!  Sometimes you want to be able to talk during a movie.  Sometimes you you want to watch a movie on the big screen without taking it too seriously.  Sometimes you want to go see a movie, get a bite to eat, and have a few beers with your friends without being out all night.  Sometimes you want to have your cake and eat it too.  At the  bar & grill & movie theater you can do just that.  Now we just need to get one in New Orleans!

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