Cafe Society

AMC takes fast-casual to dinner and a movie at Southlands

Dinner and a movie has always been a dating-world staple. While you engaged in small talk over dinner, it's comforting to know that if you run out of conversation, the action on the silver screen will soon fill those dreaded, awkward silences. Not to mention that the action could move off the screen into the seats of the dimly lit theater if the date is going well (just be careful not to kick the seats in front of you....) And for established couples, dinner and a movie is a great way to get out of not just the kitchen, but the house. Much to daters' delight, the recently remodeled AMC theater in Southlands has turned the dinner-and-a-movie combo into one seamless experience with surprisingly good food. See also: If you've dated women in Denver, you might recognize one of these

AMC isn't new to the movie/dine-in theater concept; in fact, the chain has a dozen other dine-in theaters spread across the country. But the AMC Southlands 16 is the first to boast an AMC Red Kitchen, a dine-in concept that combines the dine-in movie concept with the fast-casual craze currently sweeping the country. "Fast casual is really popular and a great concept for a theater," says Ryan Noonan, spokesman for AMC.

As visitors to AMC Southlands 16 purchase their tickets, they're assigned seats to ensure that food orders are going to the right place -- and then you can order your food from an interactive menu on an iPad. In addition to snacks, candy and more common theater fare, the Red Kitchen menu includes pizzas, sandwiches, hot dogs, wraps, platters and salads, as well as desserts. "We looked at standard movie food and asked, 'How can we upscale that?'," explains Cory Shute, AMC corporate chef. So the sandwich lineup includes a chicken and artichoke panini, you can order a mushroom truffle pizza, and the chicken and chutney dog features an apple chicken sausage with sweet onion and raisin chutney topped with curry-spiced popcorn. Red Kitchen also has a full bar, MacGuffins (named for Hitchcock's classic plot device).

Once you've ordered and found your seats, your food is delivered by runners -- and because Red Kitchen is a fast-casual restaurant, you shouldn't be waiting long. "Our goal is to get food out inside of a ten-minute window," says Shute.

The theaters are designed for maximum comfort and minimum interruption of the movies. Food is delivered in recyclable boxes with plastic silverware to keep noise to a minimum. Seats are grouped in pairs and spaced much further from other seats than at traditional theaters; while stadium seating is common these days, these chairs are much larger and more comfortable, and even recline just like your La-Z-Boy at home. Each seat is equipped with a service button in case you need a refill or have any other concerns about the experience.

There are sixteen screens at Southlands, and the theaters seat anywhere from 32 to 152 to guests.

Although the Southlands Red Kitchen is the first in the chain, it won't be the last. "The word is starting to spread quickly," says Noonan. "We think it's a winner and the feedback from guests is supporting that."

Want to make a date with the Red Kitchen at Southlands? Visit AMC's website.

For information on dozens of culinary events around town, visit our online Food & Drink listings -- and if you have information for a culinary event you'd like included in our online calendar, send it to [email protected].

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Ben Landreth