UPPER WEST SIDE — The Austin-based movie company Alamo Drafthouse, which is taking over the historic Metro theater, built in 1933 but closed since 2005, received approval for its two-year liquor license application Wednesday night from Community Board 7's Business and Consumer Issues committee.
Neighbors of the Metro, located at 2626 Broadway between West 99th and 100th streets, said they were overjoyed at the prospect of a new era for the movie theater, which they said has become a neighborhood "eyesore" and created a "blighted" section of the block.
"I think it will be a great addition to the neighborhood," said resident Tim Kevane.
"I only have one question: when is it opening?" Kevane said with a chuckle.
Tim Reed, the company's chief development officer, said the theater's exterior is landmarked and will remain the same, but that the interior gutting and renovations necessary would push the opening date to 2014.
Alamo Drafthouse has had success with its concept of serving house-made dinner and drinks to movie-goers sitting in reserved seats while enforcing a strict no talking policy, and has expanded to ten locations across the country in recent years, including a theater in Yonkers.
The company is also known for its themed parties and events, like tailoring menus to film as they do with a multi-course chocolate feast during Chocolat or British fare during Harry Potter.
"People never know what they’re going to experience, but they know it’s going to be exciting," said Reed.
New York City now allows alcohol to be served in movie theaters.
"This could very well be a destination kind of attraction both for this neighborhood and elsewhere," said CB7 Chair Mark Diller.
Mark Elliott, who lives next door to the theater, agreed: "It keeps the movie theater as a movie theater and it brings a unique concept to the Upper West Side. We’re looking forward to it."
While giving full approval of the liquor application, board members asked the company to be mindful of its neighbors in terms of noise as people hit the streets after a show.
Reed said that alcohol and food service stops mid-way through the movie so the experience is not akin to a bar where service continues until last call.
"We are more concerned about noise getting into the theater rather than the other way around," said Reed.
The theater will operate between 11 am and midnight daily, with exceptions for late night premieres and special events, and will seat 378 people in all in five theaters, with capacities ranging from 30 to 115 seats.