Standard evening question: Should we eat first, and then see the movie, or should we catch the early movie and then eat? For years now, the Granada Cinema and Drafthouse has solved that problem with a left-right combo: Wash down that pizza with a pitcher of Bud while you watch the flick. The crowds are enthusiastic (read: loud), the films are second run (cheap), and the worn-edged atmosphere is pretty damn charming. Why the rest of the theater industry hasn't jumped on this successful formula is anyone's guess. Must be that dark, evil haze drifting off the parking lot of the AMC Grand that blinds entrepreneurs in its path.
And once upon a time, before this city was choked with megaplex theaters--those huge, purple environments swimming in mall ambience--Dallas was home to some architecturally beautiful cinemas. The Capitol. The Rialto. The Palace. Red-carpeted lobbies, velvet curtains, soaring art-deco staircases. A bit of that rosy glow lingers in a precious few of our movie houses--the Inwood, the Lakewood, and of course, the Granada. And now the Granada has wisely upped the nostalgia quotient by spawning a North Dallas sibling, the Granada Prestonwood.
Taking up residence in the old UA at the corner of Prestonwood and Belt Line, the new Granada's $2.5 million renovation of the once-bland digs is packed with references to the golden age of cinema. The private owners have named the five screening rooms after those long-gone theaters and outfitted the doorways to each with soaring, theatrical entrances that evoke their historic namesakes, including the Palace, the Capitol, and the Majestic. And like the Granada on Greenville Avenue, the new one is an in-seat, full-service dinner theater, complete with an updated version of its pizza-and-burger menu, a new chef, and the trump card: an 80-seat, full-liquor lobby bar--a perfect place to meet up with your cinephile friends and grease yourself--gin-and-tonic style--for a bloody Scorsese flick.
And no more "Man, I'd love to sit at a table and eat fries at the movie tonight, but I've already seen that one." Instead of catching films on the second go-round, the Granada Prestonwood is screening first-run fare. Owners Brian Schultz and Milledge Hart are dedicating a screen or two to art-house fodder as well, a much-needed culture injection to North Dallas' encroaching sterility.
Nice to have a new destination in these parts that's got the substance to back up the hype. Check it out.