Last updateFri, 19 Jun 2020 7pm


Order Up! The Success of Dine-In Theaters

Dine In TheatersDinner and a movie: that usual pair comes to mind when planning a date or night out with friends.

Everyone has had a time when you and another person argued over which restaurant to go to or film to see, which caused you to reluctantly cave into a decision that was not preferred.

However, dine-in theaters kill two birds with one stone, and dissolves that potential conflict.  

Dine-in movie theaters are gaining popularity across the United States. Cities such as Atlanta, Boston, and Chicago are upping the ante and creating a unique movie experience.

Many of these dine-in theaters are under the AMC movie theater corporation, and require reserved seating prior to arriving.

The set-up of the theater is like any other movie theater, filled with reclining chairs up and down the aisles.

Shelby Kopman, a criminal justice student and server at an AMC dine-in theater further explained the set-up in regard to the restaurant aspect.

“How sections worked was there was a server who would get six rows on either the right or left side of the theater. Within 10 minutes of the theater seating, bosses would recommend that you have food and drink orders in, because every 30 minutes you would have another theater seating (this was great because I would make a ton of money),” said Kopman. 

Not only is this a great experience for the customer, but it’s also consistent for a server.

The system is organized and efficient, making the server aware of whether they will make a decent amount of money during their shift. 

“The company itself was organized, which made my job easier. The other staff were so nice and always willing to help. I love working there because of the free movies obviously, but it was never the same. Every shift was different and consistent, which is every server’s dream,” Kopman stated.

Introduced to the dining experience with a server and miniature table, the menu is similar to chain restaurants such as Applebee’s or Chili’s.

AMC’s menu includes burgers, salads, sandwiches, appetizers, flatbreads, and desserts. As opposed to a conventional theater, you are fully welcome to indulge without fear.

Heidi Bludau, Ph.D., an anthropology professor who teaches a course called “Food and Culture,” believes that the menu reflects the ambiance and presentation of a theater.

“It also depends on the physical set up - are there tables? If so, the menu could be anything. If not, then I would expect finger foods but a higher elevation than what you’d normally get at the snack bar. Either way, it would need to be something not normally found at the concession stand in order to make it special,” said Bludau.

With the hustle and bustle of a restaurant atmosphere, does it interfere with the ability to enjoy a film?

Similar to any theater, there will be the occasional noise disturbance, but contrary to those theaters, people go in aware of this set up. 

“There are the people that complain about the constant servers running up and down the aisle, or the lights that are on the seats so people can see their food, but for the most part people love it. It’s not just your typical popcorn and candy kind of movie theater,” indicated Kopman.

While there may be a lot going on in a dine-in theater, that’s what makes the experience more incomparable.

It takes the chaotic atmosphere of a restaurant and combines it with a movie theater experience.

The set up can reflect on American cultural values, such as efficiency and speediness.

There’s also a social element as well, given people often go to restaurants to socialize and catch up with family or friends.

Bludau noted, “One might say that we choose to multi-task by eating and viewing a movie at the same time. Others might say that we are combining pleasures of eating and the leisure of watching a film.”

“Of course, we can also just consider it to be another form of entrepreneurship from the side of the theater - what can we offer that the other theaters don’t?” concluded Bludau.

If you are a regular at a restaurant, you may find yourself requesting a familiar server simply because they are a friendly face, and you know they will get the job done.

You may also want to know how they are doing in their personal life.

These social bonds are prevalent in the restaurant industry because they promote continuous business.

AMC may be trying to provide an element of hospitality by adding dine-in theaters to their repertoire.

Would you want to go to a dine-in theater?

Psychology student Laura Swinyer seems sold by the concept.

“You get two in one, both a restaurant and a movie. I think it makes for a more enjoyable movie experience too,” said Swinyer. 

If you are interested in dine-in theaters, the closest one in New Jersey is in Edison at Menlo Park Mall.

It may make the next date or Friday night out go more smoothly.

PHOTO COURTESY of downtownbrooklyn.com

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The Outlook
Monmouth University
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