Trendy Texas-based dine-in movie theater chain Alamo Drafthouse Cinema has opened online ticket sales ahead of the late-January launch of its first Chicago location, which will give the public a reason to visit Wrigleyville during the Cubs’ off-season. Equipped with six screens, full-service meals during screenings, and a standalone cocktail bar tribute to retro video rental stores, Alamo Drafthouse Wrigleyville pegs its opening day for Friday, January 27 at 3519 N. Clark Street, according to a rep.
With more than four dozen locations across numerous states, Alamo Drafthouse has garnered a loyal following for offering full meals during its movie screenings, complete with servers who bring burgers, pizzas, and salads to customers’ seats. The brand has brought separate sister bars in other cities (in Boston, it’s called the Press Room and contains a functioning letterpress print shop). Chicago’s bar, dubbed Video Vortex, also has outposts in Brooklyn, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Raleigh, North Carolina.
Designed to resemble late 20th-century American video rental stores where generations of cinema fans fell in love with movies, Video Vortex will be more than a bar with art installations — it will also feature an enormous collection of media to borrow for free, including more than 11,000 DVDs and Blu-rays, as well as 200 VHS tapes. Those who don’t have a DVD or VHS player at home don’t need to run out to the Goodwill, as the theater will rent the devices for a fee.
Movie theaters, especially those that are independently owned, struggled enormously through the early years of the COVID-19 pandemic as operators faced many of the same economic and public health challenges seen in bars and restaurants. In 2021, Alamo Drafthouse filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, described at the time as one of the “highest-profile casualties of the pandemic.” The chain’s assets were sold to a group of former backers including co-founder and executive chairman Tim League.
In 2022, however, Americans returned to movie theaters in droves with ticket sales numbers of well over $3 billion during the summer thanks to hits including Top Gun: Maverick and Minions: The Rise of Gru. Alamo Drafthouse is hoping to ramp up that energy even further with its new movie palace in Wrigleyville. Stay tuned for more on this opening.