The grand opening of Alamo Drafthouse in Richardson took place Thursday night, replete with city luminaries, unorthodox popping of champagne, and the unveiling of a unique lobby centerpiece. Now all Alamo has to do is live up to the hype.
There was certainly no shortage of excitement among the crowd that included Richardson City Council members, Alamo Drafthouse founder/CEO Tim League, citizens of Richardson and, of course, the media. The crowd packed the lobby and the attached bar, the Glass Half Full Taproom, to enjoy Alamo's variety of local beers and bites of their signature menu items.
League and Alamo Drafthouse DFW COO Bill DiGaetano continued an Alamo tradition, christening the theater by popping a bottle of champagne with a sword — or, in this case, a massive Bowie knife provided by DiGaetano's father.
After the usual ribbon cutting, DiGaetano and Alamo creative manager James Wallace then unveiled "Johnny High Five," a huge robot hand — confusingly, one with only four fingers — made to look like it's busting through the Richardson city skyline.
Guests were then taken on a tour of several of the theater's auditoriums to get a feel for Alamo's different offerings. Although mainstream fare like this week's Elysium and We're the Millers will make up 80 to 90 percent of its programming, Alamo promises that it'll have a steady diet of independent films and special events like quote-a-longs to Anchorman and karaoke nights.
In fact, the remainder of August will celebrate English drinking films like A Clockwork Orange, Trainspotting and Withnail and I, in honor of the August 23 release of The World's End. Alamo will also serve a variety of English beer and English pub food to complete the feel of being on the other side of the pond.
The actual theater experience is a bit of a mixed bag. On the positive side, the ordering system for in-theater dining is designed for as little waiter intrusion as possible. Unlike Studio Movie Grill's light system, Alamo simply has you write down your order on provided sheets of paper that waiters pick up without a word when you place them in the designated area.
Even better is the space between rows, where waiters can stealthily walk behind seats of the row in front of you — as opposed to leaning over you, SMG-style — to pick up those sheets and deliver your food and drink. It's likely there will be times when your order arrives without your even knowing it. It's that good.
On the down side, even though the seats are pretty comfortable, none of them reclines, an amenity that has become an expected staple of movie theaters in recent years. And depending on the person, the tables seem to be slightly too high, especially when you put food and drink in front of you; they could have been lowered a couple of inches.
But those are only minor quibbles. With the variety of special events and unique programming, the location in Richardson, and the famed zero-tolerance policy when it comes to movie talkers and texters, Alamo Drafthouse looks to be a movie lover's paradise.