If you’ve been to Celebration! Cinema North and IMAX on the East Beltline recently, you’ve probably noticed a huge wooden structure jutting up to the ceiling of the lobby that looks a lot like the Tower of Sauron. Are they promoting a new Lord of the Rings movie?
The answer is yes!
Okay, not really.
What the largest theater operator in West Michigan is really up to is adding a new full service restaurant and bar called Oscar’s in the lobby of the massive movie theater. This Oscar’s will be the 4 th location they’ve opened since 2011, at various Celebration! Cinema theaters around the State.
“We think of our theaters as creating places to tell stories,” explained J.D. Loeks, President of Celebration! Cinemas. “But the lobbies of our theaters have traditionally been used as a function of the theater: provide tickets and concessions to theater-goers as quickly as possible, and on to the show in an efficient manner.”
“Adding a restaurant and bar to the lobby flips that concept on its head,” says Loeks. “It creates a place to stop and hang out before or after the movie. It provides for chance encounters with friends or neighbors that you run into at the theater.”
Celebration! Cinema North has had a liquor license since 2001, but it was used mostly for private events in the Wave Room. In 2015, they worked with the City of Grand Rapids Planning Commission to extend the license to the lobby and auditoriums, and have opened a makeshift bar in the lobby to serve local beers and wines that can be taken to the auditoriums. Despite initial concerns in some corners about serving alcohol in dark movie theaters, the addition of alcohol has been a big hit with patrons and no problems have been reported, according to Loeks.
Oscar’s takes that to the next level.
Because the food served has to be “mobile” hand type food that people can take into the auditoriums, Oscar’s will concentrate on custom made pizzas and flatbreads, as well as serve local beers and wines.
As to the “Tower of Sauron?” Loeks explains that the structure is meant to evoke the sturdiness of the many Lake Michigan piers in West Michigan. The wood is reclaimed beams from an old Michigan barn.
The plan is to have Oscar’s open in early February 2017. Cheers!
Architect on the project: ProgressiveAE
Contractor: Bulstma Construction
Oscar’s Kitchen Manager, Tom Gonzalez, ready to serve