About two years ago, CineBistro opened in the former AMC theater spot in Old Hyde Park Village. As evidenced by its remaining existence, it is now a fixture and a destination for upscale cinematic adventures. I saw The Hunger Games there last night and had a couple of thoughts.
Architecturally, it is quite pleasing. The design, decor, and lighting are closer to a boutique hotel than to a movie theater. The staff is highly trained, and because the venue is over 21 only, it is a far more relaxed, refined experience than seeing a movie at a theater with armies of teenagers. I’ve still never quite bought into the idea of eating during a movie, or needing to eat at a movie theater, as I prefer venue changes to convenience, but maybe I’m in the minority. I drank a sparkling water, which was delicious.
My sole complaint is with the seats’ design in the theaters. They are positioned too high for comfortably putting both feet on the ground, too narrow for cross-legged positioning, and there are no close ledges or, optimally, ottomans, to place ones feet. I am a tireless proponent of places to prop feet; I tend to put mine up on coffee tables more than my mom, the example setter, would like to believe. This is probably only a problem for 10% of patrons who have legs too short to touch the ground and too long to tuck indian-style. Still, I’d think that ottomans (or collapsible footrests) would be a popular addition to the seating architecture.
Excepting the foot position conundrum, CineBistro is a pleasing experience. I wouldn’t do it every time I see a film, but once in a while is lovely.
The Old Hyde Park Village retail neighborhood has limped along for quite some time with the opening of nearby competitor International Plaza in 2001, several major retailers leaving the village (Gap, Ann Taylor, Talbots), and the seemingly indifferent management of the property.
Recently, lululemon athletica opened a full-size, full-time boutique at the village, putting a permanent foot forward in Tampa. It joins traditionally bulletproof retailers like Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Anthropologie, Restoration Hardware, and Brooks Brothers in the village, along with an expanded Lifestyle Family Fitness. With luck, and some new investment, the area could reverse its downward slope and again become a premium destination for shopping and leisure, like it used to be (aka my adolescence). I’m rooting in its favor – stay tuned!