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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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