Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, a wildly popular, Texas-based movie theater chain with three dozen locations (and counting), has added a Boston spot to its roster of forthcoming expansions. It will open in the Seaport District in early 2023, taking over the former ShowPlace Icon Theatre space on Seaport Boulevard, counting Scorpion Bar, Kings Dining & Entertainment, and other big, flashy venues among its neighbors. This will be the company’s first New England location.
So, why is this food news? Because Alamo Drafthouse is notable for offering full meals during its movie screenings (brought right to attendees’ seats by servers) — and, of course, as the name suggests, a solid selection of beer (and cocktails). Additionally, this location will include a separate full-service bar, the Press Room, named for the functioning letterpress print shop it will contain and decorated with thousands of vintage movie ad plates. (It will resemble the New York City location pictured here.)
The Alamo Drafthouse menu typically includes burgers, pizzas, salads, snacks, and sweets, as well as specials inspired by specific movies, and the beer list highlights local craft brewers. Here’s a peek at the food and drink menu for the Manhattan location, which includes options like churro popcorn, vegan Buffalo cauliflower, fish and chips, pepperoni pizza, a grilled chicken club, non-alcoholic and boozy milkshakes, and lots more. Per Eater Austin, best bets include the Royale With Cheese burger, the baked pretzel, and the chocolate chip cookie shake. Soda, iced tea, coffee, and regular popcorn come with free refills.
The new location will have 10 screens, seating nearly 800 patrons in comfy recliners, and it will show a mix of first-run films and older attractions. But don’t even think of talking or using your phone during the film, as the company is known for its no-tolerance code of conduct. Additionally, patrons under 18 aren’t allowed unaccompanied, unless they’re part of a special membership program, and small children are generally admitted only during family-friendly daytime screenings.
Since it was founded in 1997, the company has expanded to more than 40 locations across the United States, although several didn’t make it through the pandemic, a business restructuring following a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, and a leadership change following allegations of misconduct.
In early 2020, co-founder and CEO Tim League stepped down as CEO and moved into an executive chairman role; this came two years after an investigative report in Splinter detailed claims that leadership at the company had a history of “minimizing allegations of sexual assault and sexual harassment—at the hands of favored customers, high- and low-level employees, and business partners.” A few months after League stepped down, replaced by former Starbucks executive Shelli Taylor, Kansas City publication The Pitch offered its own report full of allegations of sexual harassment, racism, unsafe working conditions, and more, primarily at the Kansas City location, which has since closed, but also extending to the company at large.
In June 2021, Vulture published a feature on how Alamo Drafthouse “battled back from bankruptcy” and noted the effects of the Kansas City exposé. A company spokesperson told Vulture that implementing systemic change at Alamo became “a big focus during the pandemic downtime.” The company has reportedly expanded harassment and discrimination training protocols, begun conducting workplace health surveys, and launched a communication platform where workers can report concerns.
In a New York Times podcast interview several months later, League discussed the Kansas City report and took responsibility. “You look into yourself, and your failings are pointed out, and you realize that you can do better,” he said. “And so it was an opportunity to face that criticism and work really hard to try to be as good a company as we can ... I want this to be the best possible company just for customers and for our teammates, and I do believe that we’re on that path.”
Now, Alamo Drafthouse is building itself back up: The Boston location is one of four currently listed as “coming soon” on the company’s website, along with venues in Chicago, St. Louis, and Birmingham, Alabama.