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Article updated: 2/5/2013 5:28 AM

Arlington Heights approves new dine-in movie theater

By Melissa Silverberg

Star Cinema Grill, a new dine-in movie theater and restaurant, is officially coming to Arlington Heights this spring after receiving approval from the village board on Monday night.

Plans for Star Cinema Grill, 53 S. Evergreen Ave., were approved 8-0 by the village board, which also recommended issuing a liquor license for the facility.

"So many of our residents are excited about getting the theater back and having it open as soon as possible," said Village President Arlene Mulder.

The new movie house, set to open mid- to late May, will replace the former Arlington Theaters, which closed in July, leaving a major vacancy in the village's downtown. Trustee John Scaletta, operator of Arlington Theaters, recused himself from the discussion and vote on the new theater.

With approvals out of the way, owner Omar Khan said construction will begin soon to transform the traditional theater into a dine-in restaurant.

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.

The changes will greatly reduce the number of seats available, from 1,567 to 707, although six viewing screens will still be in use, Khan said.

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.

Several trustees on Monday thanked Khan for being so flexible with his business plan to accommodate Arlington Heights.

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.

Guests will arrive 30 to 40 minutes before a movie starts, meaning almost all orders will be placed and served before the movie starts. People will also be able to order food and drinks in a restaurant-like seating area and bar in the lobby, he said, but they must purchase a movie ticket to enter the establishment.

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 moviegoers.

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

"We are super excited," Khan said. "We can't wait to get started."

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