Popcorn and a chardonnay? Glen Ellyn movie theater considers selling alcohol

  • The Glen Art Theatre wants the village to create a new classification of liquor license to allow the movie house to sell beer and wine.

      The Glen Art Theatre wants the village to create a new classification of liquor license to allow the movie house to sell beer and wine. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

Updated 2/17/2020 1:56 PM

Glen Ellyn moviegoers could find themselves asking a tricky question: What wine pairs best with popcorn or a box of Sno-Caps?

An iconic movie house in downtown Glen Ellyn is looking to sell alcohol to try to better compete with nearby theaters that boast extensive cocktail menus.


The village would have to create a new type of liquor license to allow the Glen Art Theatre to sell craft beer and wine from its concession stand.

"It's pretty much standard," owner Eric White said. "I don't think you can open a movie theater now and not try to sell liquor."

White has not yet formally applied for such a liquor license, but he plans to gauge support from village trustees during a workshop meeting Tuesday night. He also wants to know what restrictions the board would place on alcohol sales at the Glen.

"This is more an exploration than anything along those lines," White said Monday.

A wine and beer selection would help bring the 1920s-era landmark into the age of in-theater dining. The Glen transitioned to digital projection in 2013, but it remains one of the few independently-owned downtown theaters in the suburbs. Indie films and foreign language films often appear on the Glen's retro theater marquee.

The four-screen theater now draws about 55,000 visitors each year, according to a village board memo.

White said patrons have long requested alcohol. He said he regularly has to pick up liquor bottles from moviegoers who sneak in drinks to screenings.

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Glen Ellyn business owners must pay a $500 application fee when they initially apply for their license. The village has proposed a $500 annual fee for the liquor license that could be created for the Glen Art Theatre.

A 1.5% food and beverage tax enacted by the village last March also would apply to alcohol sales at the theater.

Trustees will discuss a liquor license for the Glen during Tuesday's meeting at 7:30 p.m. in Room 301 of the Glen Ellyn Civic Center.

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