Alamo Drafthouse, the popular Austin, Texas-based movie theater chain that features dine-in service and a strict zero-tolerance talking and texting policy, opened its long-awaited downtown Brooklyn location last weekend. The new theater had an impressive opening with only a few logistical issues that would befall any business training a new staff. It immediately introduced itself as a welcome alternative to the crowded, expensive theaters in Manhattan.
The Drafthouse is located at 445 Albee Square West in Downtown Brooklyn, on the fourth and fifth floors of the City Point building. It’s easily accessible via a large number of subway stations, including the DeKalb Ave stops for the N/Q/R trains and the Nevins St. station for the 4/5 trains.
Convenience aside, the main attraction of the Drafthouse is the food that it serves before and during the film. There is a table for every two seats, functioning like a sit-down restaurant. A waiter takes your order and brings your order to your seat. Arriving early is key to having an enjoyable experience — you’ll have more time to look over the menu before the movie starts, and you can actually talk to your waiter. Once the movie starts, the no-talking policy begins, and food and drink orders must be written down on cards and placed in a slot on the table.
Executive Chef Fernando Marulanda has done an excellent job with the menu, which was personalized for the new Brooklyn location. I had a Brooklyn brisket burger with fries, a pure cane sugar soda and an order of chips and queso, all of which were delicious. The wait staff does an excellent job of not disturbing the peace and quiet as they take order cards and deliver food. Plus, in a borderline sadistic way, it’s mildly entertaining to watch the staff scurry up and down the rows, bent over so as not to block the screen. Occasionally, it can take a while for an order to be filled; however, this is a minor logistical problem that will surely be worked out in the coming weeks.
The selection of films ranges from wide release Hollywood blockbusters to prominent buzzed-about indies to special programs of old films. Just looking at the schedule for this upcoming week provides an eclectic mix, including “Doctor Strange,” “Moonlight,” “The Handmaiden,” the 1988 satirical sci-fi film “They Live” for their Terror Tuesday program and “Mean Girls.”
With Netflix and Amazon making their way into film production and distribution, there is sincere speculation about what video-on-demand and streaming services mean for the future of movie theaters. Dine-in theaters like the Alamo Drafthouse bring a new appeal to theater-going and overall, make it an more satisfying experience.
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