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Regency brings in-theater dining to San Juan Capistrano

May 7, 2010 |  1:09 pm


Want some steak and wine with that popcorn?

Dinner and a movie have been a dating staple for years. Now a theater chain wants to combine the two.

Regency Theatres, the Calabasas-based circuit, today is opening a 600-seat, Moroccan-style theater in San Juan Capistrano that includes a five-seat VIP auditorium where customers can order a meal along with beer and wine while watching a movie.

The 50-seat VIP auditorium, one of four in the new theater, features reclining seating and buttons that allows patrons to order food from a full-service restaurant, Rick's Cafe, offering items like Kobe beef hamburgers and Moroccan curried chicken salad. Customers will pay $16.50 for the experience.

Regency, which operates in 21 locations in Southern California, including five other theaters in Orange County, is just the latest theater circuit to offer in-theater dining and the premium ticket prices that go with it in an effort expand its customer base and capture some of the business it currently loses to restaurants and bars.

Australian theater operator Village Roadshow Ltd. last year brought its luxury cinema experience Gold Class Cinemas to Pasadena. Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Austin, Texas, which also offers in-theater food and beverage services, plans to expand into Southern California. The trend has caught on at the largest theater chains as well. Kansas, City Mo.-based AMC Entertainment Inc. has been testing casual and more upscale food and beverage services at theaters in Kansas City and Atlanta and plans to expand the offerings to as many as a dozen theaters this year. 

"As home theaters become more widespread, the competition to get people out to the movies is greater and things like in-seating dining and beer and wine services need to happen to enhance the moviegoing experience and make it more compelling,'' said Lyndon Golin, president of Regency Theatres.

Located on Verdugo Street next to the San Juan Capistrano Amtrak train station, the theater will seek to tap into an affluent market. "Southern Orange County," Golin said, "seemed like a good market in which to give this a shot."

-- Richard Verrier

Photo: The Regency San Juan Capistrano Theater in downtown San Juan Capistrano. Credit: Eric Pantaleon