As you probably know, movie theaters have been suffering from declining ticket sales for most of the past several years. I’d like to think this is payback for the onslaught of crappy films about comic-book superheroes that take up so much cinematic space.
But, it’s more likely that escalating ticket prices combined with sky-high food and drink costs, have resulted in more and more people like myself choosing to stay home and watch movies via Netflix, cable TV, the Internet and such.
Increasingly, theater owners are attempting to combat sagging tickets sales by installing plush seating or even leather recliners in theaters and implementing ticket-reservation systems. In a recent NPR piece about movie theater upgrades, a spokesman for multiplex chain AMC was quoted saying, “The company plans to spend $600 million installing new seats over the next five years.” It’s probably only a matter of time before we’ll have first class, business class and steerage seating at our cinemas.
Well, I’m proud to say that Utah has been ahead of the curve in value-added cinema experiences. Brewvies Cinema Pub—which serves quality food and drink, including alcohol, to patrons 21 and over—has been operating here since 1997.
It’s been a long time since my college days when my buddy and I smuggled a six-pack of Rolling Rock into a midnight screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. And, it seems nearly as long since I’d visited Brewvies. It hasn’t really changed much since opening, although the menu has grown and the film selection has improved. I watched American Hustle there recently, and Monday’s Film Buff Nights—featuring movies such as Snatch and American Psycho (my personal favorite)—are always enticing.
Brewvies is a bar, cafe and movie theater rolled into one. You could just hang out, shoot pool, watch sports on TV and drink if you’d like. You could also grab a burger, pizza, salad, sandwich or whatever. You don’t have to see a film. However, if you do want to catch a flick, this is a great place to do it. The theaters—two of them—are set up with sofas in the back, and theater seats with long counters/tables on which to place your food and drink. Yes, ordering food and drink right before a screening at Brewvies can be chaotic. But, place your order, sit back—there’s lots of legroom—and wait for your order number to appear on a lighted board in the theater, then just go pick up your grub and grog.
I really liked the beer-battered cod ($14) at Brewvies, but the accompanying wedge fries were tepid, mealy and ... meh. The Harvest salad ($12) is a heaping plate of fresh greens, tomato and cucumber, tossed with diced grilled chicken, grapes and apples in a honey-Dijon dressing, sprinkled with sunflower seeds. Since the salad was already dressed, I did think it a bit odd that it also came with a container of raspberry vinaigrette.
Sandwiches include a choice of side salad, chips and salsa or fries, and you should definitely try the slow-roasted pulled pork with housemade honey-chipotle barbecue sauce ($10). Other interesting menu items include falafel ($10), a black-bean burger ($10), Baja fish tacos ($9), garlic burger ($11) and beef or vegetarian jumbo hot dog ($7). A very good beer selection rounds out the Brewvies experience. Kudos to Brewvies for being so forward-thinking.
Like Brewvies, Ogden’s MovieGrille is a bar, cafe and movie theater combined. Unlike Brewvies, it’s modern, nearly new and features plush leather reclining seats that are more comfy than anything in my house. That’s in addition to cheap ticket prices ($4.50-$6) and inexpensive, but excellent, food, drinks and service.
MovieGrille is the creation of Utah native Adam Jackman and his business partner, Jeff Robinson. Jackman told me he traveled far and wide throughout the United States researching movie theaters with the idea to create one that served “not just pub food,” but restaurant-quality fare, mostly from scratch. With MovieGrille, he’s succeeded.
The Ogden theater is set up a little differently from Brewvies. At MovieGrille, you take your seat in the theater and a server brings a menu and takes drink orders. There’s a nice beer and wine selection available, in addition to soda and tea, and you can even BYOB (with a corkage fee) if you’d care to. Place your order and it’ll be delivered right to your theater seat! One piece of advice, though: You might want to bring a small flashlight, since it’s difficult to read menus, drink lists and your bill in the dark theater.
During Lee Daniels’ The Butler, I was happily surprised by MovieGrille’s food, which is as good, and in some cases better, than some of the stand-alone restaurants I review. A fresh hummus platter ($8) with two types of hummus—fire-roasted garlic-tomato and pesto—grilled flatbread, chipotle aioli and Feta cheese dip was outstanding. Ditto an excellent thin-crust Meaty Goodness pizza ($10) topped with smoked mozzarella and provolone cheeses, Italian sausage, pepperoni and Philly cheesesteak-style beef. Other tempting dishes range from goat cheese and pear salad ($9) and the Portobello Blue burger ($9) to a grilled three-cheese panini ($8) and beer-battered chipotle pepper poppers ($8).
With all that MovieGrille has to offer, I may never watch a flick in any other theater again ... especially not until I figure out how to get out of those leather recliners.
BREWVIES CINEMA PUB
677 S. 200 West
2293 Grant Ave., Ogden