Let me say this about that…
Some of you – don’t look at me like that, you know who you are – are under the mistaken impression that because I’ve been critical of the Alamo Drafthouse‘s ridiculously harsh no texting/no talking policy, I’m down on the place.
Two-plus-two usually does make four, I’ll grant you that, but despite my liberal views, trust me, I’m neither a text-a-holic nor an in-movie yapper.
Just a realist.
That said, I’m going to share my experience at the Alamo’s bold, new downtown venture, The Mainstreet. Because on Wednesday I accompanied a party of five to the Alamo’s grand, soft opening.
And no, I didn’t get yelled at, kicked out or anything of the kind.
Now I’ve gotta tell you…
I was impressed. Really impressed.
Enough so that I think I’ve even figured out a way for the Alamo to add more seats to the upstairs screening rooms to make up (in part) for the ones going bye-bye downstairs when they jam in the dining rails and server aisles come September.
Here’s how my night unfolded.
It started with a warning to my wife by the nice lady at the ticket booth.
"There’s no talking and no texting," she said. "Seriously, they’ll throw you out."
First let me say, they didn’t know it was me.
My wife got the tix while I parked the car. I only happened upon the friendly warning at the end of her transaction and you could kinda tell the women felt a little awkward about it. My guess is she worked there for AMC and wasn’t used to threatening people yet.
Inside, the Mainstreet still looks great.
We sat in the Cinema Suites for a second go-around on The Marvel Avengers (zzzzzzzzzz, once was enough for this one – I actually liked it first time out).
"We kind of adopted a new policy," our server began. "So when you want to order, just write down what you want and push the button and I’ll come by and get your order. There’s no talking during the movie."
Next came those ad-free movie shorts everybody’s been raving about. And guess what? They were killer cool. A great way to pass the time while you’re still allowed to order verbally and – you know – schmooze your date or whomever without getting kicked out.
My suggestion; arrive early, it’s worth it.
Next came the Alamo’s new menu – that changes every so many months. Trust me, it will be a breath of fresh air to pretty much anybody that’s been stuck supping on the food at AMC’s Fork and Screen or Cinema Suites.
My picky eater daughter Liza liked it so much she ordered two servings of the fried pickles. Hey, and they have Godiva chocolates and Jaeger – just don’t mix the three.
That brings us to the dress code, or what passes for one.
Unlike the neatly attired AMC staffers past, the Alamoans I saw wore like black shirts and much faded jeans. I dunno, maybe their Star Trek suits are on order, but from the looks of it, my guess is every day is Casual Friday.
Naturally the sound and visuals are beyond top notch, thanks to the spendthrifts at AMC who lost their butts at the Mainstreet.
My hunch is – and I spoke to some of the Alamo’s staff from Austin – that the Mainstreet blows away any of the other Drafthouse’s in the company’s movie theater portfolio.
One quick critique, then I’ll tell you my plan to save Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie and the rest of the Drafthouse gang from $anta Anna.
It was painfully obvious that my server was uncomfortable delivering food and drink during the movie. I don’t know whether she’s new and felt threatened (like the customers are) by management. You know, like she might get kicked out without getting her paycheck or something.
Yet even though there were only like 10 people in our theater, she spent the entire time racing back and forth a million miles per hour, while ducking uncomfortably. Which actually made for more of a distraction.
I know she wanted to get out of the way, but the high speed, animated racing routine was far more distracting than had she merely walked past at a normal to brisk pace. As it was, it was kind of like, "Where’s the fire?"
Now my plan to save the Alamo’s bacon.
My screening room had a posted occupancy of 23 but I counted only 21 seats.
With better than six feet between my legs and the partion to the next level. Now if you extend the recliner that narrows the free space some, but there’s still plenty of room for a redo with nice seats that probably could at least double the seating comfortably.
In my humble opinion.
And if the Drafthouse can pick up an extra 100 seats upstairs, that’ll go a long way toward making up for the 100 or more they’ll lose in the big theaters downstairs when they make room for food and beveage service there.
May the force be with them!