Construction crews are working around the clock to get Star Cinema Grill, a new dine-in movie theater in downtown Arlington Heights, ready to open next month.
The theater, at 53 S. Evergreen, is scheduled to open between June 7 and June 14, said Vice President of Operations Gus Vazquez, just missing the big Memorial Day weekend, but ready for the rest of the summer movie season.
Nearly every part of the former Arlington Theaters, which closed last July, has been gutted, with the new owners spending millions to install updated seats, tables for food that will be served in the theaters, upgraded digital movie screens, a bar in the lobby and a newer ticket window.
The new owners have replaced the nearly 15-year-old decor with modern-classic design including new white tiled floor, leather movie seats and flat screen TVs in the bar area.
Because of the tables, the number of seats available in the theater has been reduced from more than 1,500 to about 700 seats, although six auditoriums remain.
"It's basically a full-run movie theater and a full-run restaurant at the same time," Vazquez said. "It's so convenient, it's like a one-stop shop."
Inside the theater, each table will have a buzzer for customers to press and summon their server. Each guest will receive a menu card with all the food and drink options so they can check off their order without verbally disrupting other movie goers.
The menu includes traditional movie favorites like popcorn and candy, but also American restaurant foods with cinematic names such as Gone With The Wings, Honey I Shrunk the Sandwiches, Say Hello to My Little Fries, Lord of the Onion Rings and a Blues Brother's Burger. Vazquez said they will also add Chicago items such as hot dogs and Italian beef sandwiches.
Guests will arrive 30 to 40 minutes before a movie starts, meaning almost all orders will be placed and served before showtime. Servers will cut off alcohol sales and pass out bills near the end of the movie.
Vazquez said he is disappointed to be missing out on the revenue over Memorial Day weekend, but he and the other managers wanted to make sure the theater was ready to open.
"We are making sure we get it right from day one. The community has been waiting a year for this so we want them to be wowed when we open the doors," he said. "We'll be here for 15 or 20 years so one weekend won't kill us."
Once the theater opens, ticket prices will compare with other surrounding theaters, about $10.50 for adults in the evening, with lower prices for matinees, seniors and students, he said.
Vazquez said the plan is to have three or four Star Cinema Grill locations operating in the suburban Chicago area by 2015, but he wouldn't specify where else they are looking. The company has been operating in Texas since 2004 and has three locations in suburban Houston.
"We knew Arlington Heights was the right place to start and we're really looking forward to being part of this community," Vazquez said. "We're not looking to meet expectations, we're looking to exceed them."
The theater expects to hire between 70 and 100 employees to take tickets and serve food or alcohol. People can apply online at http://starcinemagrill.net/employment-application.