Concessions Go to the Movies

There’s a reason why you’ve likely started seeing more and more concession-style food items available at the movie theater: Depending on where you live, the expanded menus are another way for the theaters to make more money, especially when box office sales sag because of increased competition from online movie sources. Or simply patron disinterest. 

One business model that’s on the rise includes the installation of leather recliners and side tables in place of traditional movie seating. When the lights dim for previews, the wait staff approaches each group and asks what people would like to order from the menu. As you settle in for the feature, or sometime before or after, your waiter returns with a collection of food and drink. And you can have your dinner or lunch as the movie kicks into high gear.

Other theaters simply expand the offerings available before the show, says QSR Magazine, selling slices of pizza and pre-packaged salads as customers hang out at the bar or wait in another area where hot entrees will be served after being prepared by a staff of line cooks.

What may elude customer attention, very much out of intent on the part of the theater operators, are the behind-the-scenes operations that make all of the newfound food items available – operations that include either Concession HoodsPizza Oven Hoods or full-on Commercial Kitchen Ventilation systems.

“When the cinema industry first was conceived, everyone saw it as a place to go and watch movie stars on the big screen, but then realized there was a need for snacks and food and beverage during the event,” says an industry expert. “As the expense for presenting films grew, secondary and ancillary revenue streams were created. You saw the development of concessions … to support the profit offset.”

Many theaters, he explains, are offering upscale food items at the concession stand while also adding limited- and full-service dining options to the overall movie-going experience.

At one theater, offerings range in price from $9.50 for the cheapest appetizer to $22.50 for a fish entrée. And that, of course, is on top of the cost of movie tickets, parking, beverages or snacks. So far, people seem to be taking well to the concept.

“We identified a niche of a moviegoer who really cut down on the amount of time they were going to a movie or eliminated it altogether because of what a traditional movie-going experience has become nowadays, which is very crowded and sometimes rowdy,” says the executive director of one cinema-restaurant concept.