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Regency brings in-theater dining to San Juan Capistrano


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

Comments () | Archives (10)

The small Cinebarre chain has been doing this for years. It's a good experience and, hopefully, will become widespread.


good concept!! you can even enjoy watching the train arriving and departing from the balcony of the VIP section of Rick's Cafe while you share a drink with family or friends. Good food, good service, love it!!. Thank you Regency for bringing the city to live after 10 years being in the dark. Love SJC

Good location and excellent theatres. However, without repeating myself again, $8-50 each for a senior in the afteroon is far too much. Watching the trains accationally go by from Rick's balcony is fine, but this crowd do not care. If you open at 12noon, you can capture a large percentage of seniors up to 5pm.rather than let the seats remain empty.You are trying, so its up to the local and outside public to support it.The last closure was lack of attendance not any dispute with Edwards who did try to make a go of his theaters.Its a huge undertaking, and they need our support. Keep the tax dollars in San Juan,I by the way, live in Mission Viejo but see the vitalization efforts being made by the City.

Good daring move by Regency, Its a European concept but will it work on SanJaun Capistrano? At least they are trying

so lets give them some support!

Give this theater your support! They wil soon encorporate other activities. Without it , it wil be dark again and as far as I tell ,will never open again.San Jaun needs the tax dollars to keep going.

I was finally able to attend this theatre and let me tell you it was one of the best experiences at a theatre I have ever had. The staff was excellent! The management is awesome and the decor, picture, sound, and seating accommodations were top notch! I experienced the VIP theatre. Some people were telling me $16.50? And I was like yes like it was nothing. Because if I go to a baseball game I can get the cheap seats or pay 10 times more for the great ones. I can go to a pretty good restaurant I enjoy or go to a very high class restaurant for 5 to 10 times the price. This experience was at that level but I paid $6 more for the ticket. The experience heavily outweighs the price in my opinion. Instead of stepping up to this level on special occasions I will do it regularly. I am not a local in San Juan but I will heavily support this place and will tell just about anyone I know and maybe even a few strangers.

nice but too pricey for us seniors.. have a senior rate or at least something for us oldies..

hope this theater is working out? At least they are trying.
However, the demographics are weak to support it with all the other restaurants in the area.As I have said before and say it again . Have special prices for over 60 up to 5pm.
It cost the same to run a theater empty or full.Also ,have a special menu on tap for the seniors at the restaurant.Make it a day out for them and increase your revenue.

Note Sara Nelson's comment...........Too costly for her , and how many friends does she have. Those seats will remain empty. If they have senior admissions you will go right Sara?

VIP theater will not work in the long term. Why pay double the price to see a movie so you can sit there and order mediocre food while you are waiting for the movie to start.

Also, some popular movies only play in the VIP theater. So people who just want to watch the movie walk away due to the double price --We saw it happen twice today, including us. Shame since we would like to support local business.

The standard theater experience here is very good however---VIP will probably fail.


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