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Studio Movie Grill Brings Cinema Back to the Arena District

Hope Madden Hope Madden Studio Movie Grill Brings Cinema Back to the Arena District
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Those of you who’ve missed having a Downtown movie destination since the Arena Grand closed last May – particularly those with a hankering for more than popcorn with their movies – rejoice. The Texas based cinema-dining franchise Studio Movie Grill has renovated the space at 175 W. Nationwide Blvd. and opens its doors, lights its stoves and rolls credits this week.

Boasting 11 screens as well as seats roomy enough to accommodate a dinner tray, the cinema intends to entertain Columbus with digital projection, reserved seating, a fully stocked bar and high-end kitchen.

Says Lynne McQuaker, director of media relations for SMG, says the concept has proven popular in 14 locations, and she believes Columbus is the right spot for number 15.

“Columbus simply felt like the perfect city for the movie grill concept for so many reasons,” she says. “Its vibrancy, sense of community and demographics – and the Arena District seemed like an ideal location for SMG expansion plans.”

According to the franchise’s press release, Columbus Mayor Mike Coleman seems to agree. In it he says: “As mayor, I’m grateful to Studio Movie Grill for contributing to our thriving job market and to the overall success of the Arena District. As a downtown resident and frequent moviegoer, I’m looking forward to visiting this great new theater in my neighborhood.”

Mike’s ticket purchases aside, how will SMG thrive in the location that didn’t pan out for the previous cinematic tenant? Indeed, how will it compete with so many movie theaters in Columbus?

“Studio Movie Grill has differentiated itself in the market today by its continued ability to innovate and maximize movie and menu offerings,” says McQuaker.

For instance, SMG offers “100% reserved seating, so that guests will never be rushed or have to wait in line for a movie again.”

McQuaker also points to guest service, an evolving menu, and the space’s two-story bar as incentives to make SMG Arena Grand a patron’s moviegoing destination.

“SMG also proudly supports local initiatives through its community outreach and awareness,” she says. These will include screenings of the fitness documentary Generation Iron during the Arnold Classic, for example.

During its inaugural weekend, the theater offers community outreach by way of its Cans Film Festival. Benefitting the Mid-Ohio Foodbank, the program offers $1 movie ticket to any patron donating two cans or other manner of non-perishable food items from Friday, January 17th through Sunday, January 19th.

The theater also offers programming specifically for families of children with special needs, as well as promotional series aimed at families, or programmed to entertain those on a guys’ or girls’ night out.

Mainly, though, the concept is about taking in a first-run film without the rush to find a seat, and enjoying a cocktail and dinner item while you watch – a concept that piqued the interest of an aide to then-US Senator Arlen Specter 15 years ago.

“During his tenure with Senator Specter, Brian Schultz attended a film at the Bethesda Draft House in Maryland, and immediately fell in love with the concept of serving food while watching a movie,” Says McQuaker.

Schultz would become SMG founder and CEO.

“This experience planted the seed for what would become Studio Movie Grill,” McQuaker says. “And the rest is history.”

McQuaker is confident the idea will catch on in Columbus.

“Meet friends, linger at the bar before the show, then a leisurely stroll to your assigned seat and kitchen-to-table service at the push of a button,” she says. “What could possibly be better?”

For more photos and information on the food offerings at Studio Movie Grill, CLICK HERE.

More information can be found online at www.studiomoviegrill.com.

A full slate of movie reviews is available on my website www.maddwolf.com. You can also follow me on Twitter @maddwolf and like me on Facebook at facebook.com/MaddWolfColumbus.

Photo by Ayana Wilson.

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  • ShortNorthResident

    “missed a downtown movie destination”? The Gateway Film Center (Columbus Underground’s best theater of 2013) is right down the street!

  • Yes, the GFC isn’t far away. But it’s not Downtown.

  • Right down the street as in 2 miles down the street. If you live and walk that might be too far from downtown. Oddly enough the Gateway and the Lennox are the exact same space apart too, 2 miles. A big city like this can definitively support more then 1 movie theater…

  • ad180

    11 screens? How many did the Arena Grand have?

  • Arena Grand originally opened with 8 screens in 2002, and 3 more were added in 2007.

  • Achekov

    I like to eat at Ted’s Montana Grill or Bucca de Beppo and then see a movie. I don’t want disruptions in the movie. Did they save ANY of the screens from these conversions? This was such a nice theater and already had pretty decent food and a bar.

  • Not all the houses were open when we toured, but it appears that every one offers in-theater dining.

  • TheyCallMeTBone

    Eating wings in the dark is not easy, no joke.

  • Eugene_C

    I checked the menu on their website and nothing really spoke to me. To be honest I liked the food better back when Drexel ran it. I’m obviously in a minority because their Radio City Cafe didn’t make it either and that’s where the food came from before. I mean, how many people do you know who think “baklava and turkey pesto wraps with sprouts” at a movie?

    Regardless, I think I’ll stick with regular theaters and popcorn at this point. If you’re not going to order the coconut chicken sliders, then there’s no compelling argument to listen to other people around you doing so during a movie.

  • futureman

    I think this full service movie theater is a strong trend and would expect it see more conversions. I’m kinda surprised the AMC Lennox hasn’t already gone this route, for at least some of their screens like Easton.

    When I saw Pacific Rim at AMC Easton movies suites I did not find it distracting what so ever having people eat full meals or servers dropping off food. No more annoying then someone eating pop corn or gummy bears at a traditional screen.

    It should also be noted the price is the *same* at AMC Lennox and SMG- both are $10.25 for Adult 2D. For the same price you get a reserved seat, that reclines and the ability to order food or drinks without getting up.

  • Zeppo

    Did they ever comment on the type or tone of movies they would offer ? The Arena Grand had popcorn flicks but also a Drexel tone of independent type films. I’ve had it on my list to visit the Studio Grill for 2 months now and they’ve yet to show a film that interests me. A lot of Need for Speed type fare.

  • Has anyone else checked out the new Studio Movie Grill? I went with a few friends to see the 300 pre/sequel against my will (because of the movie…I was excited about the theater) a few weeks back and had a mixed experience.

    The lobby bar definitely had a wider selection and the staff was very nice. My theater experience was a bit mixed.

    The sound and picture were great. The seats were super comfy. The restrooms were clean (although I miss the Marilyn Monroe poster in the men’s room).

    We ordered our tickets online (like we always used to do) and discovered that everyone (all 20 patrons) were all seated right next to one another. My guess is that this is to accommodate the staff in providing table service, but it felt odd to be tripping over strangers when the theater was 2/3 empty.

    I’ve been to several dinning theaters and have never really been bothered by this before, but it seemed like there was a bit more noise and commotion from the interactions with customers/staff during the movie. A few times I was asked if I had ordered something in the server’s hand. I overheard a few customers disputing items on their bill towards of the movie.

    I think this was the first weekend it was re-opened, so I chalked it up to that and will definitely return (because I love the idea of a downtown theater) but wanted to hear about other experiences.

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