22 November 2009
Posted by Paul Anater at 6:34 AM
So I went to he movies last night. There's nothing unusual about that, but where I went to the movies was incredibly and wonderfully unusual. My friend Mike and I went to Tampa's brand new CineBistro theater.
CineBistro got its start over the summer in Miami. The new one in the Hyde Park neighborhood in Tampa is the second CineBistro in this market and the third in the chain. CineBistro is a venture of Cobb Theaters and there are plans underway to open additional locations in Daytona Beach, Atlanta, Savannah, suburban DC and Vail, Colorado.
CineBistro is a movie theater unlike any I've ever been in. For starters, they are a full-service and full-menu restaurant and you have to buy your tickets in advance. Your movie ticket is also your dinner reservation. The shows start later than usual, and the idea is that you should arrive a half an hour before showtime. Once you're shown to your seat, a waiter comes along and reviews the chef's specials, answers questions and takes a drink order. They have a full bar and an extensive wine list. A separate bar runner brings your drinks while the server takes your order.
As my server explained to me last night, they do not serve courses. The goal is to get all of your food in front of you before the movie starts. The menu was adventurous and very regional. By that I mean it was very Florida-specific. Churrasco, plantain fries and yellow rice are very common foods here but I wonder how they'll play in DC or Atlanta. Hmm. Anyhow, my dinner was fantastic. Any place that puts whole anchovies on a Caesar salad is A-OK in my book.
I mentioned that their goal is to have your dinner served before the movie starts and that goes for paying the bill too. The servers have handheld registers and they place your order from where they're standing. The servers have a small printer hanging from their aprons, so they swipe your credit card and print the receipt as they're standing in front of you and I thought that was pretty cool.
The theaters only accommodate around 50 people and there's an over-21 age restriction in place at all times. The seats are very wide and have two arm rests per seat. Now more arm rest wrestling. Hurray! No screaming kids. Hurray!
The public areas of the theater are beautifully done. I noticed that the chairs in the bar were all Philippe Starck and all of the lighting was by Tech. Somebody spent a lot of money...
Anyhow, it's a fantastic idea and I can't believe no one's thought of it before. A movie theater for grown ups. What a concept. Thanks CineBistro!