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posted: 1/24/2013 4:42 PM

Details emerging for new Arlington Heights movie theater

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  • New details are emerging about plans to turn the vacant Arlington Theaters facility in downtown Arlington Heights into Star Cinema Grill, a dine-in theater showing first-run films with dinner and drinks.

    New details are emerging about plans to turn the vacant Arlington Theaters facility in downtown Arlington Heights into Star Cinema Grill, a dine-in theater showing first-run films with dinner and drinks.
    Daily Herald file photo

  • Video: How Star Cinema Grill works


Details of the new Arlington Heights movie theater and restaurant planned to open downtown later this year are starting to take shape.

Star Cinema Theaters owner Omar Khan appeared before the village's liquor and plan commissions this week to discuss the proposed dine-in theater he hopes to open this summer.

The new movie house would replace the former Arlington Theaters, which closed in July, leaving a major vacancy in the village's downtown.

The facility's transformation to a dine-in theater will greatly reduce the number of seats available, from 1,567 to 707, although six viewing screens will still be in use, Khan said.

Planned renovations include upgrading the projector and sound systems to digital, adding restaurant tables in each theater and improving sound insulation. An indoor ticketing office and bar also will be added, and every other row in the theaters will be eliminated to provide tables and room for servers who will bring meals and drinks to guests.

One change the theater no longer plans to make is requiring moviegoers under 18 years old to be accompanied by a parent or guardian. The proposed restriction, which exists at the chain's Texas theaters, was not well-received by Arlington Heights leaders.

"In order to be successful in this market it was necessary for us to waive those house rules," Khan said.

The Arlington Heights location would be the first of what Khan hopes are several Star Cinema Theaters in the Chicago region. The company has been operating in Texas since 2004 and has three locations in suburban Houston.

The theater will show first-run movies, including some midnight showings of major films when dictated by the studios, Khan said. He said the company's practice is to hire off-duty police officers to provide additional security during those late-night screenings and large premieres.

Inside the theater, each table will have a buzzer for customers to press and summon their server, and each guest will receive a menu card with all the food and drink options so they can check off what they'd like to order without verbally disrupting other movie goers.

Khan said servers will wear black, crouch down and be unobtrusive to other guests. All employees will be trained to make sure anyone drinking is of age and food and drink sales will be cut off near the end of each showing.

Guests will arrive 30 to 40 minutes before a movie starts, meaning almost all orders will be placed and served before the movie starts.

At his Texas theaters, Khan said 33 percent of his revenue comes from the box office, 40 percent from food and about 18 percent from alcohol sales.

Although movie theaters are known for having expensive concession foods, Khan said his food pricing is based more off a local restaurant prices for burgers, pizza and other casual dinner foods.

"Our goal is to provide a nice aesthetic and a good movie experience that's affordable to all guests," he said.

Tickets for adults in the evening will be between $9 and $10, with lower prices for matinees, seniors and students, Khan said. The largest auditorium will seat 150 people, the smallest about 60.

The theater also will offer its space for birthday parties, social gatherings and corporate events.

Star Cinema Grill will employ between 75 and 130 part -- and full-time employees, depending on season.

The plan commission Wednesday unanimously approved the proposal and sent it to the full village board, which will take up the plans at its Feb. 4 meeting.

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