Yesterday I was invited to a media tour for the new Alamo Drafthouse Cinema at One Loudoun (thanks Alden and Stephanie!), which is set to open May 3. Our guides were franchise owners Anthony Coco and Joseph Edwards, who moved from Texas a year and a half ago specifically to start this business (Anthony’s son got to go snow sledding for the first time in his life this past winter). Their passion and enthusiasm for making the Alamo Drafthouse experience amazing is contagious, and after my visit yesterday I’m sure this is going to become one of LoCo’s most popular hangouts. Here are a few pictures of what movie goers will find:
Think of this like a dinner reservation, with a movie to boot. You can walk up, or reserve your seat the web at Drafthouse.com. GM Mike McGrath recommends arriving 30 minutes prior to the start of the movie to order dinner, and no-one will be seated after beyond the 10 minute mark. Ticket prices are the same as every other theater in the area, so why not have a pizza and a beer or milkshake instead of candy and popcorn?
That’s Joseph on the left and Anthony on the right, explaining how the Glass Half Full taproom will offer 32 craft beers (no Miller Lite here) and a wide array of mixed drinks designed by the mixologists at the corporate offices. You don’t have to go to the movies to patronize the bar, it’s open to everyone.
There are 8 different auditoriums, including three 3-D screens, seating 49 to 151 people (imagine every other row taken out of a regular theater). Super sound-proof walls make sure you don’t hear the movie next door, and each theater features Sony 4K projectors, Dolby 7.1 surround sound, and leather seats. Alamo also produces their own pre-shows, so you won’t see any Coca-Cola or Sprint ads before the movie. Oh, and make sure you keep that phone away once the movie starts, one warning before you are kindly asked to leave.
Chef Johnny Dooher, an Arlington native, gave us a tour of the kitchen. He says they are 90% scratch, meaning they make just about everything on site. Food takes at most 20 minutes to prepare, that’s how long the fresh baked cookies need to cook, and nothing is started before the order ticket prints. The menu will resemble the Texas cinemas, with a few local dishes (he mentioned crab cakes, Heather will test them out for you). The plan is to work with local farmers, wineries, and brew masters to help establish our regional taste. You will still be able to get popcorn and soda if that’s your fancy, but the idea is to give you great food while you enjoy the show.
When I first heard about the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema concept, my thought was it would be for special occasions. That changed after meeting Joseph and Anthony. Any time we go to the movies it’s going to be here, starting with the Staff Training Days April 29-May 1. Tickets are on sale here for $2 each, with half off the full dine-in menu. Iron-Man 3 premiers Thursday, May 2 at 9:00 p.m., and the official ribbon cutting is set for 10:00 a.m. May 3rd. See you there!