Eat. Drink. Movies.
The three words rattled my head, over and over, as I leaned against the bar and sipped a glass of hard cider. It was my first visit to Studio Movie Grill in Indianapolis, Indiana, and I was watching fellow movie-goers. And thinking. And tapping my index finger against my glass, over and over. Tap. Tap. Tap. Eat. Drink. Movies. Studio Movie Grill (SMG) was different, especially when compared to the movie theater of my childhood. I had grown up with greasy popcorn and narrow aisles, and cup holders were a nonexistent luxury. But here I was, some years later, standing in a sleek, modern theater in Indianapolis, a drink in my hand, the movie Rush on my mind. SMG was more than a theater; it was a concept. It was both dinner and a movie–a place for a first date, a night out.
In-Theater Dining at Studio Movie Grill in Indianapolis
SMG, a Dallas-based company that prides itself on redefining the in-theater dining experience, spent seven figures renovating Movie Buff Theatre on Indianapolis’ northwest side.
The central Indiana theater now boasts a full-service bar and an area for socializing before or after a flick. There are kiosks–similar to what can be found at airports–from which tickets can be purchased. Or, as SMG’s website suggests, a movie-goer can “leave the lines at the amusement park” and conveniently reserve seats online.
In addition to convenience, SMG focuses on state-of-the-art, seat-side service. Each movie theater seat–which is wide, comfortable, clad in leather, and possibly the most comfortable theater seat I’ve ever lounged in–comes equipped with a red call button. It’s a movie-goer’s “Easy Button”; press it at any time during the show, and a server arrives to take an order, to bring a drink, to refill a soda, to deal a slice of cheesecake.
“Oh, my gosh. This is so much better than the dollar theater I used to go to,” I gushed to my friend after we had placed our orders. “We never wanted to pay $7 for a half-tray of nachos, so we, uh, you know, sneaked in McDonald’s.”
My friend laughed and shook his head. He raised his glass, one filled with a dark amber beer, and said, “This is what other theaters lack. The ability to relax, talk, and enjoy a good beer before a show.”
Eat. Drink. Movies.
Appetizers. Main courses. Desserts. Sandwiches. Cocktails. Milkshakes. Side items. Kid’s meals. It was all there. The American grill-style menu overflowed with more than 100 items, including buffalo tenders and BBQ bacon cheddar burgers. My eyes were wide with options. Coconut shrimp or mahi-mahi tacos? I tapped my glass, once again, as I weighed my dinner options. Tap. Tap. Tap. Eat. Drink. Movies. I could kick back and watch Rush, popcorn and soda at my reach. Or I could savor the courses; enjoy ceviche lettuce wraps before the entree arrived.
“What are you ordering?” my friend asked.
“Food,” was my quick and unspecific answer.
My friend laughed. “So, you’re telling me you don’t know what to get because you want more than one thing?”
In the end, I settled on the tacos and the cheesecake (of course), which I devoured (of course). A few weeks later, when I returned to SMG for an advanced screening of About Time, I selected the steak and gravy sandwich. And the cheesecake. Again. Which I devoured. Again.
It’s not just the desserts that lure me, however. Mondays at SMG are $5 margarita days (which I wholeheartedly admit to taking advantage of). Tuesdays, on the other hand, boast a $2 discount off all burgers. A bottle of wine can be snagged at a discounted price on the weekends, and, on Thursdays, the whole family can attend a first-run release of a movie like Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, when SMG offers a free kids meal with the purchase of an adult entree. Equally enticing is SMG’s “2 for $25” combo meal (a bargain popularized by several various restaurants).
I’ve visited SMG twice now, and already have tickets to yet another movie. It’s like me to go a bit early, to grab what my uncle would call “an adult beverage,” and watch. Watch and see and experience. Pay heed to the industrial-looking light fixture. Sit upon the squishy, comfy, lounge benches. Acknowledge the upgraded sound-system, the 60-foot movie screens. There is many a thing to notice, many a thing to attend.
There’s Brews-N-Views for the guys, and Girls Night Out for the ladies. And there are monthly Dollar Movie Classics events–see movies like Caddyshack, The Big Lebowski, Blues Brothers, and It’s A Wonderful Life on the big screen. Or pack up the whole family and come to the theater at 11 a.m. on Saturday or Sunday–SMG offers family-friendly cartoons for just $2 per ticket. And, once a month, there are special needs screenings, where the lights are up and the volume is lowered. The screenings–at which children are allowed to talk, move, or dance in the aisles–are free to children with special needs, as well as their siblings.
So take a date. Take a friend. Take the family. Take advantage of SMG hospitality.
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