You might soon have the option of sipping an oaky Chardonnay with your chocolate bar, or washing that buttery popcorn down with a hoppy ale at the corner movie house.
Operators of the AMC Showplace Naperville 16 cinema complex at Route 59 and 95th Street are looking for approval to begin serving liquor in the lobby of the 16-screen theater on the city’s southwest side.
Representatives of American Multi-Cinema Inc. pitched the idea to the city’s liquor concept committee in August, proposing the concept of a lobby bar that is already in place at AMC theaters in Chicago, Mount Prospect, Crestwood, Chicago Ridge, Lake in the Hills and Vernon Hills, in addition to more than four dozen other movie houses nationwide.
“To date, there have not been any formal liquor violations at any of those AMC theaters,” states a memo from the office of Mayor A. George Pradel, who also is the city’s liquor commissioner.
Naperville has a movie theater that serves cocktails and food, Hollywood Palms Cinema on Route 59 near Fox Valley Mall, but the request for Showplace would entail creation of a new Class V liquor license that would be tailored specifically for the site, and Showplace would be the sole licensee. Sold from a 16-foot bar situated away from the candy counters, the alcoholic products would be served in clear cups to keep the contents visible and easy to differentiate from the soft drinks sold at the main concession stand.
If approved, the new bar service will be subject to other limitations as well. Only patrons who have bought tickets to a movie will be able to buy drinks, and all of the theater’s employees, including the candy-counter help, will be required to take part in the city’s Beverage Alcohol Sellers and Servers Education and Training program. Each customer will be allowed to buy just one drink at a time.
AMC representatives told city officials they anticipate about one in 25 patrons would take advantage of the new theater feature, imbibing an average of 1.5 drinks apiece. Liquor commissioners also stipulated that no alcohol sales should take place before noon, and recommended requiring customer wristbands for at least the first year.
The Liquor Commission heard from AMC on three more meeting dates during the fall before approving the proposal in December with a 4-1 vote. Commissioners Scott Wehrli, Jack McCambridge, James Ostrenga and Court Kenaston supported it, while Jack Berry cast the vote against it. Commissioner Bill Young was absent on the day of the vote.
Naperville City Council members will take up the request at their first meeting of 2014, set for 7 p.m. Tuesday in the council chambers at the Municipal Center, 400 S. Eagle St.