Ah, date night!
What could be better than dinner, cocktails - if you choose - and a movie?
How about if you could have it all at the same facility?
That’s the plan for Burnsville’s 15-screen movie theater near the Burnsville Mall that was purchased in February by Paragon Theaters.
Formerly owned by Cinemagic, the three-year-old theater is already impressive with its digital technology and “Atlantis-themed” lobby area. But the new owners plan to make going to the movies a “premiere experience,” at the renamed Paragon Odyssey 15.
“Going to the movies in the early days was a social experience,” said Robert Fronckoski, the theater’s general manager. “You got dressed up; it was truly a night on the town – it was a top hat and cane experience.”
While that might not exactly be Burnsville’s style, when the renovations are complete, the theater could inspire one to “step out,” now and then.
Overlooking the theater’s lobby, the mammoth statutes of Greek gods Poseidon and Andromeda will reign over a new full-service bar and restaurant area called the Mezz Lounge.
It will be a place to relax, have dinner and just in case you don’t finish your cocktail, bring it into one of two movie auditoriums that are accessed from the balcony. The restaurant will have overflow space to a room that can also be used for receptions, parties, banquets and “pod” viewing of televised events.
Paragon owns three other theaters – one in Virginia and two in Florida. All follow this new business model of providing food and drink. One theater has a bowling alley and encourages a theater dress code.
The Odyssey’s new restaurant and bar area are expected to open later this month or by the middle of October.
“This will be a great place for date night, but it will be a family-friendly environment,” Fronckoski said.
New concept, more hoops
Because liquor will be served on the premises, there are plenty of hoops the company has to jump through before opening the new services.
Fronckoski was before the Burnsville City Council Sept. 6 seeking liquor licenses. Council members, while supportive, had plenty of questions prompting Paragon to scale back its original proposal, which would was to serve alcohol from all concession stands and allow patrons to bring drinks into all viewing spaces.
While that may work for some communities, council members are concerned the idea of concession-stand-access to liquor and a dark environment may be a recipe for underage drinking.
“This is a new one for us,” said Council Member Dan Kealey.
This would be one of just a handful of movie theaters in the Twin Cities that serve alcohol, including ShowPlace ICON Theatre in St. Louis Park, the New Hope Cinema Grill and Pepito's Parkway Theater Minneapolis.
Council members asked to have alcohol available only in the new restaurant and balcony venues.
Fronckoski has 10 years in the theater management business and recently moved to Burnsville. He said the council’s plan would be workable.
Once the restaurant is up and running, there will be reserved seating in the balcony level movie auditoriums.
“People will be able to go to our website and actually reserve their row and seats,” Fronckoski said. They are currently testing the concept, and he hinted there may eventually be an up charge for that service.
The theater has 40 employees. He said the restaurant may require another 20 employees.
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