Alamo Drafthouse Cinema – Kalamazoo
It’s been so long since J and I have been to a movie theater. The last time we saw a movie was Thanksgiving Day two years ago when J was still pregnant with L. We saw The Muppets at the Goodrich Kalamazoo 10. Really, we haven’t gone on many dates since L was born. Since we don’t have any family in town, it’s hard finding someone to watch L when we want to go out.
My brother and his family have family in the Mattawan area and this year was Christmas in Michigan year. When I found out they were coming, I took the night off and asked my parents if they wanted to come up for the weekend and we would do our Christmas on Saturday after my brother did his wife’s family Christmas on Friday.
My parents decided to drive Friday night to avoid some of the weather that was coming in for the weekend which worked out incredibly well for us. J’s boss rented a theater and treated his employees and a guest to a showing of Anchorman 2. Without my parents in town, J would have went by herself, but since we had babysitters, I got to tag along.
The movie was a noon showing a the new Alamo Drafthouse in downtown Kalamazoo. The theater opened to much fanfare last month in the building occupied by The Rave Motion Picture Cityplace 14 until late last year. From the outside, not much has changed. The big glass facade with random bright colors is still there, but the inside looks quite a bit different.
There are a lot of differences between an Alamo Drafthouse, but the first thing you’ll notice is the lobby area. There’s not a huge concession stand area because there are actually waiters/waitresses IN the theaters. There is a bar area where you can enjoy a number of Michigan craft beers before the show, but it’s not necessary to grab one out there because they can also be delivered right to your seat.
The next big difference you see is once you get in the theater. The seating is still stadium style, but there is a long table in front of each row of seats. Seating is actually assigned, so you know before you enter the theater where you are going to sit. Each ticket has a seat number on it and there is a corresponding number on the table in front of the seats.
Once we sat down, I grabbed the menu from underneath the table. It’s a good idea to get to the movie early for two reasons. The first is to get your food order in so you have it early in the movie. The second is that no one is allowed in to the theater after the movie starts.
There are order slips in the rail on top of the table along with pens to write your order down. You can interact with the waitresses, but they’re going to write it down anyway then write your table number on it.
We started with drinks while we looked over the pretty large menu. I got a pint of Arbor Buzz Saw IPA while J went with the Adult Mexican Chocolate Milkshake.
The adult milkshakes were something J was really looking forward to. The one she ordered comes with reposado tequila, chocolate, and cinnamon. It’s then topped with whipped cream and a cherry.
It’s just not a movie theater experience so I ordered bottomless popcorn with butter. The movie theater style popcorn comes served in a large metal bowl. No paper buckets here. The popcorn came out right at the beginning of the movie and J and I started eating like that was the only thing we ordered. Before our meals came out, we had eaten almost a the whole large bowl. Even without lunch, I don’t know if we were got a second bowl. It was quite large and quite (deliciously) buttery.
I didn’t have much of a problem picking out something for lunch. I ordered a beef hamburger Hatch Green Chile style. With all of the burgers, you get to choose beef, chicken, or veggie patty. The fresh half pound Angus chuck burger is served on a toasted bun. The Hatch Green Chile option includes tortilla crisps, queso blanco, red onion, and dijon mustard. The sandwich was quite tasty and quite messy. There was a lot of queso blanco came oozing out of the bun which made the meat kind of slide around. It was a little bit of a challenge to eat, but it was delicious. The sandwich came with an order of steak fries that didn’t really stand out on their own, but the perfect compliment to the burger.
J had a little bit of a harder time deciding because she kept going back and forth on the Green Chile Mac and Cheese. She was worried about it being too hot. The baked mac and cheese comes with green chile’s mixed in with the tender noodles and creamy cheese. There is a crispy bread crumb topping. She said the dish was delicious, but we had loaded up on popcorn before these meals came out about a half hour in to the movie.
With about twenty minutes left in the show, the waitress brought out our bill which came out to around $50. It’s a little expensive, but we did get two adult beverages as well as the popcorn. When you think about it, you can spend almost half of that at a typical movie theater just on pop and popcorn, so getting a full meal, including the bottomless popcorn which was only $5 for $50 will probably end up saving you money in the end if you were planning on dinner and a movie anyway.
As I’m sitting here writing this, J just told me it’s going to be hard to go to a regular movie theater ever again. The Alamo Drafthouse is a great movie experience. When I was explaining it to my family, I said it was more like a restaurant with a movie screen than a movie theater with a bar. The food is surprisingly good and the option of getting beer served to your seat at a movie theater is something I really like.