It was two years ago this month MXSW reported Alamo Drafthouse Cinema was coming to Chandler. After 24 months of uncertainty and one site change, the much-anticipated Texas-based concept finally has opened its doors.
The complex, on the northeast corner of Arizona Avenue and Chandler Heights, features nine screens with food and drink service, a restaurant, and a locally focused craft beer bar.
Earlier: Alamo Drafthouse Cinema coming to Chandler after all – just not downtown
A grand opening is scheduled for Friday, but doors opened to the public last night for a three-day soft opening during which food prices are discounted while the staff undergoes training.
Tale of 2 sites
Those who’ve followed the tortuous tale of Alamo’s arrival in Arizona know the theater originally was planned for downtown Chandler, where it was supposed to join several restaurants in a yet-to-break-ground development called The Row.
The announced opening date was Dec. 14, 2015, for the premiere of ‘‘Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens.’’
After months of delays due to contaminated soil, however, Alamo selected a new site five miles directly south where, perhaps fittingly, it’s opened just in time for the next ‘‘Star Wars’’ film, ‘‘Rogue One,’’ which hits screens Dec. 16.
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema was launched in Austin, Texas, in 1997, and has expanded to more than 20 U.S. cities. In addition to the location in Chandler, another is planned for south Tempe in 2017.
The concept has earned a reputation for its strict etiquette rules about talking, texting, arriving late, and tipping poorly in its theaters. Infants and unaccompanied minors are not allowed at most screenings.
In 2010, the company launched Drafthouse Films to distribute ‘‘provocative, visionary and artfully unusual films new and old from around the world.’’
Alamo has been named ‘‘best theater ever’’ by Time Magazine and ‘‘coolest theater in the world’’ by Wired.
Alamo Drafthouse Chandler has nine screens that will show a combination of new releases, classic movies, and its own signature programming.
The largest theater can seat 170 moviegoers, the smallest 48. Each theater has Sony 4K digital projection and a state-of-the-art sound system.
All seating is reserved, and tickets can be purchased using the theater’s app. Seats are 24 inches wide, instead of the typical 21 inches, for extra comfort.
Food & drink
Alamo’s food menu focuses on appetizers, salads, burgers, sandwiches, and pizzas. Many would be considered ‘‘upscale,’’ such as its signature Brie & Onion Jam Burger ($15) or Brussels Sprouts, Smoked Bacon, and Goat Cheese Pizza ($12).
There’s a brunch menu every day for screenings that start before 2 p.m. A kids menu also is available.
The full bar has 32 craft beers on tap ($4-$7), including 24 from Arizona, plus another 21 in bottles. There are six red and six white wines by the glass ($5-$9) or bottle, as well as sangria and mimosas.
There also are six ‘‘adult’’ milkshakes ($8), such as a Resposado Chocolate Shake with tequila and Maker’s Mark Milk Punch Shake with bourbon.
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