A combination movie rental shop and cafe in Jamaica Plain’s Egleston Square that is known for its extensive Blu-ray, DVD, and VHS collection is expanding. The Video Underground is currently in the midst of building out a screening room and a sit-down cafe in the space adjacent to the current shop at 3203 Washington St. The expansion could be ready sometime by the end of September or the beginning of October, owner Kevin Koppes told Eater via email.
The Video Underground’s current cafe menu offers a wide array of coffee drinks, teas, and blended drinks, as well as a variety of pastries, and it caters mostly to folks browsing the film collection, as well as commuters. The menu will expand in conjunction with the space, Koppes said.
“While we’ve always had baked goods, a lot of the new stuff we’re making — bread puddings, fruit danishes, cinnamon rolls, monkey bread — have been sort of a leap forward for us as a small operation making everything in-house from scratch,” Koppes said. “For hot food options, we’ll still have our range of sweet and savory crepes with plenty of vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options. There are also plans to introduce hot cereal options in the morning and soups and stews in the afternoon. All in all, it’s a full-on cafe menu with what we hope is a little something for everyone.”
The expansion was always in the plans, Koppes said, and the timing finally worked out. (A peek at a brief history of the shop on its website indicates that the Video Underground, open since 2002, has always been a work in progress.)
“It required both the unit next to us to be unoccupied and an organizational situation that would make moving forward a possibility,” Koppes said. “Being the first seated cafe across the street from two new housing developments ended up being a nice bonus in terms of timing, but it was always a goal regardless. We never thought there was a bad time for a dedicated screening room and event space or sit-down cafe on this side of Jamaica Plain, but we do think the timing of all of this was about perfect.”
The Video Underground has hosted screening nights for a while — Koppes told Eater the team has “always gone out of our way to provide as wide a range of neighborhood screening options as possible.” Programming over the past year has included everything from silent horror to the Marvel comic universe to blockbusters from the 1980s, but there hasn’t been a dedicated screening room.
“Having been putting on film events for over two years now, there’s really not a decade, major director, or genre of film we haven’t touch, and maintaining that level of variety is absolutely central to how we approach our screenings,” Koppes said.
The screening room will resemble a black box theater. “It’s completely blacked out, soundproofed, and replicates a tiny theater as much as possible,” Koppes said.
The cafe will still cater to commuters, but it will have seating options for folks who’d like to eat in, and the aesthetic will be “cinema cafe.”
“Movie-themed drinks and food items, antique cameras in the windows, rows of video cases on one side of the room for our media subscribers, and the general decor will all lend to the idea that this is both an eatery and a cultural space rolled into one,” Koppes said.
Movie-goers will be able to enjoy anything on the cafe menu while watching films in the screening room. Koppes also hopes to introduce a late-night menu.
The Video Underground is (mostly) still open during the buildout, so stop by, rent a moody French film (or a goofy teen comedy), and sip on some espresso.