Why multiplexes are adding alcohol sales

Mark Willingham Uncategorized

Why multiplexes are adding alcohol sales

Temecula theater could join other multiplexes in region that offer beer and wine service.


The Press Enterprise

By Aaron Claverie, Staff Writer

August 23, 2016

How about a local craft beer to wash down that extra-large bag of popcorn? Or maybe a Heineken and some Skittles?


The Edwards Temecula Stadium 15 at the Promenade mall has applied for a liquor license that could make these home theater combinations available to its patrons.


If the license is eventually issued, the theater would join other multiplexes in the region — such as the AMC Tyler Galleria 16 in Riverside, the Tristone Cinemas theater in Jurupa Valley and the Harkins Mountain Grove 16 in Redlands — that have added beer and wine service in a bid to woo older customers.


“It’s something that has been growing over the last decade or so,” said Patrick Corcoran, vice president for the National Association of Theatre Owners, which represents more than 600 member companies. “We’ve seen it building and growing as theaters keep looking at ways to expand the audience and keep attracting a variety of moviegoers.”


A notice announcing the Temecula theater’s application — which has yet to be approved — was posted on the building’s front window July 25.


The protest period, during which people can contact the Department of Alcohol Beverage Control with any concerns, ends Wednesday.


If there are no protests, the local ABC office likely will approve the application.


Armando Gonzalez, agent in charge for the Riverside ABC office, said in the last couple of years, there has been an increase in theaters applying for license in Riverside County and throughout the state.


“In the last year and half I can’t think of a movie theater that we’ve denied,” he said.


In some cities — Brea, for instance — local planners have enacted rules that limit how many beers or glasses of wine a patron can be served and how staff should card and identify people 21 and over.


There also are theaters that have carved out special areas where beer and wine service is allowed that is separate from the general admission area.


Knoxville, Tenn.-based Regal Entertainment Group, which runs Edwards-brand theaters, has not announced details about its plans for the Temecula theater.


In some cases, movie theater companies have applied for licenses but they don’t move to offer beer and wine service right away.


Corcoran said that may be due to a desire by companies to have the proper procedures and systems in place before moving forward.


“The biggest issue is you’re not just doing one business; you’re two businesses now,” he said, adding that serving alcohol adds complexities such as cleanup and training of staff members. “That’s one reason why it’s taken awhile to take off.”


In markets where residents have questioned the wisdom of serving alcohol in theaters that are frequented by teenaged patrons, the industry has used the example of a sports stadium, where adults and teens sit together as a group.


But Corcoran said there are some differences with how theaters handle alcohol sales, noting the relatively short window of a movie’s run time and the rules in place at theaters don’t lend themselves to over-indulgence.