Movie Theater Dining Tips From a Pro

I’m a movie theater-dining virtuoso. I have mastered the expert skills of adjusting depth perception for eating in the dark, how to balance a tray of beers and six personal pizzas while walking up a ramp and communicating with moviegoers while Jason murders a slutty teen in 3-D. As a server in a movie theater/restaurant in Colorado from The Dark Knight until Bridesmaids, I’d like to offer my professional input on Downtown’s Eclipse Theaters, which celebrates its grand opening on Thursday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.—and give a few tips while I’m at it.

Unlike the casual spot where I earned beer money, Eclipse (which will mainly screen first-run mainstream films) provides a high-end experience. “[When you enter], you have a feeling of walking into the premium properties on the Strip,” says Ryan Stock, Eclipse’s executive director. “It very much feels like a hotel.”

Photo by Krystal Ramirez

Photo by Krystal Ramirez

The resortlike vibe begins at the entry’s concierge desk, where guests purchase tickets ($18) and reserve specific seats. I like to sit as far away from other people as possible, and nothing is worse than a neck ache caused by a front-row seat, so being able to reserve ahead of time takes the sting out of the pricey tickets. And just like casinos’ players clubs, Eclipse offers three membership programs.

But Strip luxury is most apparent in the multiplex’s eight theaters, which fit anywhere from 30 to 80 leather recliners. “It’s really all about the service inside the cinema,” Stock says.  “We strategically [placed] the seats so guests [would] have the best view.” He adds that the placement ensures servers would not distract guests when delivering bites and beverages throughout screenings. Nobody wants their view obstructed when a 20-foot-tall Tom Hardy or Margot Robbie is on the screen, right?

Photo by Krystal Ramirez

Photo by Krystal Ramirez

And if you want to guarantee a perfect view, two of the theaters have soundproof glass VIP booths that seat up to 10 people. To rent a booth, guests must purchase all 10 seats (at $18 per ticket), plus mandatory food and beverage tabs—$300 on weekdays and $500 on weekends. That might make the typical price-gouge concession popcorn sound like a bargain to some, but others will appreciate wining and dining with nine friends during the next Marvel release.

And as for popcorn, Eclipse definitely has it on the menu—though not at a concession stand. Other selections that are convenient for eating in the glow of the silver screen include flatbreads and sliders, with all menu items ranging from $5 to $18. To order, each tray table has a blue-light button to signal servers. Moviegoers can order until the end of the film, when the server drops off the check.

To pair with those bites, the venue serves beer, wine and cocktails, including four house-made libations on draft. From personal experience, I’d recommend something that doesn’t come in a stemmed glass for stability reasons, as no one wants to accidentally knock their flute of prosecco over in the dark. I once dumped Chardonnay on an unsuspecting moviegoer during The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, but thankfully she had 17 hours to dry off before that movie ended …

And while dinner with a show is the main attraction, the second floor’s warm and inviting bar/lounge area and outdoor patio are great for those who want to skip the movie and instead enjoy a meal and a cocktail. Eclipse will soon also have a luxury golf simulator called 21 Greens, which will feature five rooms (available to rent by the hour) and open sometime in January 2017. “You can play 18 holes on Pebble Beach in the comfort of your own private suite,” Stock says.

In reality, the only things I learned from waiting tables in a theater is that you make the worst tips during horror films, and to take up smoking so I could go on breaks. But I hope my experience was beneficial to you in some way when you visit Downtown’s newest night-on-the-town destination for the first time.

Vegas Seven