You probably know that Regal Cinemas is opening a 14-screen movie theater later this year as part of the big Essex Crossing project. There haven’t been many details about the theater since it was first announced in 2014. But there are a few tidbits contained in a liquor license application just posted on Community Board 3’s website.
According to the application, Regal wants permission to sell beer, wine and hard liquor at its concession stand. But don’t expect the multiplex at 115 Delancey St. to start offering in-theater boozing anytime soon, or to open a full-service restaurant (like the independent Metrograph on Ludlow Street). We’re told by a rep for the Essex Crossing development team that no restaurant is in-the-works. Only a few New York City theaters offer dining and drinking in theaters, and the Essex Crossing venue will not be one of them.
The application includes a fairly extensive food menu, suggesting that the new Regal outpost on the Lower East Side will be offering more than popcorn and candy. Items listed include steak sandwiches, street tacos and a selection of pizzas. No beer, wine or liquor is listed on the menu.
Under New York state law, most theaters can only sell alcohol if they have a tavern liquor license and restrict alcohol consumption to the lobby area. Some newer venues, led by the Nitehawk in Williamsburg, offer in-theater dining. The State Legislature granted permission to theaters that, “meet the definition of (a) restaurant, (offer full) meals and where all the seating is at tables.” Big operators, including Regal, have been pushing for more sweeping legislation to allow liquor in a broader range of theaters, and the governor has offered his support, but there has been resistance from lawmakers.
The new venue at Essex Crossing will include 14 screens on floors 2 through 5 of a building now under construction on the southeast corner of Essex and Delancey streets. There will be stadium seating and reclining seats in every theater. The building, which also includes a new home for the Essex Street Market, is expected to open in September.
The applicants will go before the community board Monday, April 16. At that time, we’ll find out exactly what they have in mind when it comes to liquor sales.