Going to the movies is not what it used to be. What was once a fun and relatively affordable night out in comfortable surroundings has become a much bigger ordeal. Rising prices, chattering guests and texting teens are making more and more people consider home-entertainment options like Netflix and Hulu.
Eastgate Brew & View hopes to change that. Next to the Eastgate Jungle Jim’s and Eastgate Mall, this cinema offers a full dine-in restaurant and bar and also serves guests in their seats during shows. There really hasn’t been a locally owned movie theater like this since the old Mount Lookout Theater, and that was known for second-run movies. (The new CineBistro at Liberty Center in Butler County also offers luxury dining and films, but it’s an offshoot of Alabama-based chain Cobb Theaters.)
Modeled after the fabled Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas, Brew & View is owned by the Theater Management Corp., whose sister theaters — the Esquire, Mariemont and Kenwood theaters — are known for screening more offbeat offerings, independent and foreign films and the occasional cult classic, like the Esquire’s interactive The Rocky Horror Picture Show midnight showings.
Those theaters are also known for their selection of upscale food and drink — sophisticated snacks like Wilmington, Ohio’s Windy Acres nuts and candy, and full bars stocked with champagne, wine, local beer, cocktails and frozen drinks. But none of their menus compare to the offerings at Brew & View.
Owner Gary Goldman opened the business in a former Danbarry Dollar cinema; although the rundown and dilapidated
budget theater had been remodeled to give it a clean, utilitarian feel with stark yellows and browns, the concept took some time to adjust to meet the expectations of moviegoers.
Goldman opened Brew & View during Star Wars: The Force Awakens — a daunting task for any movie theater — and there were complaints at first: orders took a while, the wait staff sometimes got in the way during the film and noise was unavoidable. Goldman chalks this up to being unprepared, and hiring staff with little initial experience and promises all has been remedied.
I had all this in mind when attending an opening-weekend evening showing of Deadpool.
My wife and I sat down for dinner in the lobby lounge about 45 minutes before the 6:50 p.m. showing and ordered from the movie-themed menu. We started with an appetizer of poutine ($12) and two alcoholic milkshakes: the American Graffiti with coffee, bourbon, chocolate and vanilla ice cream, and the Sandra Dee, with frozen strawberries, Chambord and vanilla ice cream ($9.75 each). We added a quesadilla ($10.50) for her and the Heart Attack Hot Dog (wrapped in bacon and deep fried; $10) for myself.
Not the healthiest option, but we didn’t regret the delicious decadence that chef Quenten Brogden, Sr. sums up perfectly as “comfort food.” The chef, who came over from Horseshoe Casino, has designed a menu of traditional American cuisine, including a meatloaf recipe passed down from his mother.
Our service was quick, even during an obviously busy night. There were a lot of young people around, but still a wide range of ages, so it didn’t feel like a teen night. My wife and I found our seats about 10 minutes early, but we weren’t worried because you book specific seats in advance. The tickets, by the way, are $10.50 for an evening show, comparable to a standard chain theater, but choosing your seat before you go is certainly a benefit.
The seats are situated in pairs with an attached tray in front to hold the food and to order, in case you didn’t stop in the restaurant beforehand. There’s a paper menu on which to write your order, and then, once complete, you place it in a slot so the wait staff knows to grab it.
Our waitress checked in with us before the showing and was congenial, and not long before the movie, we ordered sodas and popcorn (dinner was filling, but I wanted to test this process). Everything arrived about five minutes later during the movie, but the waitress did the best she could to not interrupt our experience, and the same could be said for the seats around us as the movie continued.
Now, Deadpool made for a rowdy theater-going experience anyway. There was a large crowd and everyone laughed raucously, so it’s hard to gauge what it would be like to watch a more reserved movie under these conditions, say a quiet indie film like Carol. The whole experience certainly had a more mature, communal atmosphere, especially considering the live music played in the lobby and the availability of alcoholic drinks. But films screen all day long, so kids (and teens) aren’t discouraged; right now they’re playing Kung Fu Panda and Zootopia, and The Divergent Series: Allegiant is coming soon.Brew & View makes for a truly unique and fun experience. But the unavoidable reality of a bustling dining/cinema experience is that it can’t be completely immersive.
Instead of hoping to be in a dark, silent theater, imagine you’re seeing a live concert or a stand-up act in a lounge and you’ll be in for a good time.
For more information on EASTGATE BREW & VIEW (4450 Eastgate Square Drive, Eastgate), visit egbrewview.com.