Bethesda Row Cinema to sell alcohol -- Gazette.Net



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Patrons of Bethesda Row Cinema will be able to sip a cocktail and watch a movie after an extensive renovation of the interior that will be complete in April 2013.

The Montgomery County Board of License Commissioners on Thursday granted the theater located on Woodmont Avenue a Class B beer, wine and liquor license. In addition to watching a movie on one of the theater’s eight screens, movie-goers will soon be able to hang out at the new bar planned near the concession stand and enjoy an alcoholic drink or order a drink to their seat.

“Alcohol is a very small part of the whole program,” said Michael Fant, senior vice president of real estate and development for Landmark Theatres, the owner of theater. “We want people to spend a whole evening at the movie theater, relax and drink, maybe have something to eat.”

The license was issued to the Cinema Beverage Holdings Co., an LLC created for the Bethesda Row Cafe, the name given to the theater’s bar area.

IDs of those patrons attempting to buy alcohol will be checked at the time of purchase, and again when they are delivered to a patron in their seat. Ushers will also monitor the theater to insure there is no under-age drinking, according to attorney Linda C. Carter, who represented the cinema at the hearing. Alcoholic beverages will be served in brightly colored cups that are easily distinguishable from soda cups, Carter said.

In the movie screening rooms, existing seats will be replaced with larger, more comfortable ones that will be by reservation-only, Fant said. Patrons will be able to reserve seats online or at the box office. The renovated lobby, which will have the feel of a contemporary lounge, will feature a sitting area complete with tables, sofas, sconces and hanging crystal.

He said much of the renovation work will be done after hours, but the cinema will shut down for approximately two weeks in March.

When renovations are complete, the cinema will debut a full bar and updated menu, including pub fare like chicken wings and mozzarella sticks, twists on classic favorites like a pizza stuffed pretzel or mini sweet potato tater tots, vegan options and dessert.

Beer lovers will have a choice of domestic or imported, plus high-end microbrews like Chimay Blue Reserve. The bar also will offer wine and specialty cocktails, like the Bourbon Flush with Bulleit Rye Bourbon, Tuaca, fresh lime and lemon juices, and simple syrup.

Fant is hoping to add an LED sign to the marquee that would display movie times, but the mix of films, and the Bethesda Row Cinema sign, will stay the same. LED advertising upcoming movies signs will also replace posters.

"We don't want to change what Landmark Cinema is," said William Hansen, chief financial officer of cinema owner Landmark Theatres.

jablamsky@gazette.net