Today, Gentle Readers, I’m going to introduce you to a wonderful invention. I’m not sure if this wonderful invention has a name, but I usually call it Dinner-in-a-Movie. Admittedly, this is a rather clunky moniker, but I like it, and here’s why: Why would you do dinner-and-a-movie when you can do dinner IN a movie? Because that’s exactly what this wonderful invention is: A hybrid creature that is simultaneously cinema and restaurant. And there need to be way, WAY more of these in the world, because they’re AWESOME.
I first encountered one of these rare beings during the summer of 2003. Back then, I spent my summers up in Southern Maine at my folks’ summer place, working at a restaurant a few nights a week for the cash and reading on the beach for most of the rest of the time. Occasionally, though– well, more than occasionally– I ventured south to New Hampshire, where the nearest mainstream cinema lived, to get my summer movie fix. Bizarrely, though, that summer, the cinema refused to play Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. I didn’t know why then and I still don’t know why now. Furthermore, after rather a lot of searching, my mother and I—because my mum was my favorite movie-going companion—discovered that for some odd reason, almost every cinema in the South of Maine also refused to play Pirates that summer. But note that I say “almost,” because there was one cinema within driving distance that was in fact playing that fabled summer blockbuster. That cinema was Smitty’s Cinema-Pub.
So my mum and I piled into the car and headed out to Sanford, Maine, thinking that when we got there, the cinema would turn out to be a movie theater with a TGI Friday’s-esque restaurant attached to it. We were right about one thing; it was TGI Friday’s-esque. But what it wasn’t, was attached. Oh no: This wasn’t pub WITH cinema. This was pub IN cinema. As in, we bought our tickets, went into the auditorium—and found ourselves seated at tables with menus being told that we could order food both before and during the movie and EAT IT WHILE WE WERE WATCHING.
It blew. My mind.
It was then and there that I decided that Dinner-in-Movie was the greatest invention of the modern age. I subsequently made it my mission to hunt down and eat at/watch movies at every single one of these strange and wondrous places I could. There are more of them than I’d first suspected; and even better, each one is a unique experience all its own.
The next one I stumbled upon was the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas in (yes, this Alamo Drafthouse). My brother went to graduate school at UT Austin, and since he’s a media scholar, naturally he has a habit of learning about all the best cinematic hotspots in any location in which he happens to be. So when my parents and I flew down for his graduation in 2007, after we did all the usual graduation-y things, my brother and his fiancée showed us just how cool Austin can be. This included the Alamo Drafthouse.