Moviegoing options get another suburban upgrade
By Michael O’Sullivan
Friday, May 3, 2013
Is the area’s latest moviehouse a multiplex with a decent menu or an 800--seat restaurant that shows movies? It might be a little of both.
Friday marks the grand opening of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Ashburn. The 13th theater to open in the Austin--based boutique theater chain, the new branch is the first in what franchise owners Anthony Coco and Joseph Edwards hope will become a handful of local outlets in the next few years, as they continue to scout around the District and its suburbs for additional space.
Alamo is perhaps best known for its almost puritanical intolerance of texting in its theaters. When the chain made a funny PSA out of an angry (and somewhat profane) answering--machine message left by a customer who was kicked out for using her cellphone, the clip went viral, prompting Anderson Cooper to call the company’s CEO a “great American hero.”
But Alamo also is known for its distinctive approach to the cinema--and--drafthouse concept. The eight screening rooms, which hold 49 to 151 seats each, look pretty much like any other stadium--style theater, except with every other row removed. In the extra space between the rows are long bar tops, accessible to waiters from a lower level so as not to block the screen.
Coco and Edwards describe the black--clad servers as "ninjas," who are trained to get in and out with stealth. All screenings are reserved--seating only, and moviegoers are urged to arrive 20 to 30 minutes before showtime to place their initial food and drink orders. Once the movie begins, only written orders are accepted, scribbled on pads of paper that have been placed at every seat. Unobtrusive yellow lights beneath the bar top facilitate menu--reading in the dark.
Initially, food offerings will include pizza, burgers, sandwiches, wraps and salads, with chef Johnny Dooher promising to add such local items as, say, crab cakes in the not too distant future. On tap, you’ll find a rotating selection of 32 craft beers, half of which are expected to include such local labels as Lost Rhino, DC Brau and Port City. The bar menu also features cocktails and wine.
Like the Angelika Film Center in Fairfax, Alamo’s movie lineup will include more than first--run films. Such features as a weekly Girlie Night ---- offering date--night classics such as “The Breakfast Club” ---- will serve up repertory fare, singalong musicals, themed food--and--movie pairings and other events.
Located at Route 7 and the Loudoun County Parkway, the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema charges admission ranging from $9 (for children, students, seniors and military personnel) to $15.50 (for 3--D films). For more information, call 571--293--6808 or visit drafthouse.com.