The movie-and-dinner landscape expanded on a large scale this week with the opening of a new 12-screen, 1,500-seat Studio Movie Grill in Dallas, the company’s 10th location.
Movie-and-dinner theaters continue to be a growing foodservice segment. AMC Theatres, which is based in Kansas City, Mo., and has nearly 350 theaters and more than 5,000 screens, has been expanding with its Marketplace concessions and MacGuffins bar options along with its Dine-In Theatres, which offer burgers, flatbreads, quesadillas and wraps. Other growing brands include Alamo Drafthouse Cinema of Austin, Texas; Cobb Theatres/CineBistro of Birmingham, Ala.; iPic Theaters of Los Angeles; and the 16-unit Movie Tavern, also of Dallas.
Studio Movie Grill has six other locations in Texas, in addition to theaters in Scottsdale, Chicago and Atlanta. The newest location features one theater with a 60-foot-wide screen in an auditorium that seats more than 300 people.
“Studio Movie Grill started as a theater serving food and now we are a -driven concept serving scratch, fresh foods,” said Brian Schultz, the company’s owner and president, in an email interview. “As customers become more interested and educated in food, restaurants have an obligation to provide fresh, great tasting and visually appealing choices.”
The Studio Movie Grill menu includes appetizers such as crab cakes with remoulade for $15.95 and hummus with crackers and vegetables for $8.50, salads such as ginger mint for $8.95 with protein add-ons for $3, steak or portabella sandwiches for $12.50, pizzas from $9.50 to $12.50, as well as burgers, tacos and desserts.
Lynne McQuaker, director of alternate programming at Studio Movie Grill, said time-savings is one of the major reasons for the segment’s growth.
Schultz explained further: “As our schedules get busier, having a great night out that combines everything in one place saves time and reduces stress.”
He added that post-recession consumers “have embraced Studio Movie Grill because of the culture, our staff and the stress-free ability to purchase reserved seats, table service, leg room, high quality, fresh made-to-order food as well as the modern architecture and design which creates a more inviting atmosphere for our guests.”
The latest theater was also designed to look less institutional.
“The interiors are modern with a selective mix of textiles, stone surfaces, warm-woods and modern furniture classics,” Ted Low, the company’s creative director and brand manager, said.
The movie-and-restaurant chain has also upgraded the quality of its culinary offerings. Thad Kelley, the concept’s executive chef, said recent improvements include the introduction of premium brands like China Mist tea, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and Napa’s Silver Oak Wines, as well as updated recipes featuring premium ingredients.
Pizzas, for example, include a sun-dried tomato and arugula version with feta cheese and balsamic glaze and “Street Tacos” include spicy Korean beef or chipotle pulled pork. And tenders can be ordered grilled with a ginger-mint sauce.
While traditional theater concessions are available, the at-the-seat service has more than 100 menu items. Microbrew beers, wines and signature cocktails are also served.
The brand has also created a new 100-percent reserved seating model in the Dallas market.
“We don’t like waiting in line either, or racing to make a show time,” says Schultz. “Our enhanced bar-lounge and lobby area affords customers a more enjoyable, relaxed atmosphere in which to linger instead of having to rush to get the best seat or feel hurried to leave.”