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The Reflection

Alamo Drafthouse offers high quality amenities and movie choices

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Located in Downtown Kalamazoo on Portage Street, the Alamo Drafthouse offers a unique and fantastic movie experience that is unparalleled to anything around. Photo By: Brian Hall

Located in Downtown Kalamazoo on Portage Street, the Alamo Drafthouse offers a unique and fantastic movie experience that is unparalleled to anything around.
Photo By: Brian Hall

The downtown nightlife in Kalamazoo has seen an exponential growth as new restaurants and clubs open and attract consumers. One of the most popular nighttime activities, however, is going out to the movies. While there are are many options throughout Kalamazoo, from Crossroads Celebration Cinema to Kalamazoo 10, the best theater in the area by far is the Alamo Drafthouse, located on Portage Street.

The Alamo first opened in November 2013, after Rave Motion Pictures, the previous owners of the theater, closed its doors. Originally based in Texas, the Alamo Drafthouse theaters are mostly concentrated in its home state with a few exceptions scattered across the country. Since the Rave theater was already built, the Alamo took advantage and bought it as they were closing down. After several months of renovations, the theater re-opened and has experienced an exponential growth of customers ever since.

While part of this growth is due to the fact that the Western Michigan’s Medical School is located right across the street, which brings in many college students, it is also because of how unique and enriching the movie experience actually is. From their “Don’t Talk, Text, or Arrive Late” policy which prohibits talking, texting or arriving late during the film with the threat of being ejected from the theater to having little to no ads before the film starts, it isn’t a surprise why the parking garage next to the theater is always full on Friday and Saturday nights.

One of the reasons the Alamo Drafthouse is so successful is the community and unique experience customers receive. Walking through the halls of the theater, posters are strewn throughout which vary among old advertisements of wacky inventions, parodies of famous films, and pictures of beloved actors, actresses, and directors.

The Alamo strays away from the common design layout of the normal movie theater and offers its own signature look. For every row of seats in the theater, there is about a five foot walkway above and below each row which allows customers, as well as servers, to walk conveniently through. There is also a long thin table in front of each seat that stretches from one end of the row to the other, which provides the audience with a place to store their food and beverages.

Before the film starts, each audience member is greeted by a server who acts as a waiter and attendant throughout the film. If there is a problem with a loud table or the customer might need a refill, they may simply raise an order card and instruct the server what the problem is. Having attended screenings there numerous times, I have never felt this design layout affected my movie experience in a negative way. In fact, this layout is actually preferable to myself and other customers because of the vast number of food and beverage options available.

The Alamo Drafthouse can most accurately be described as a “2-in-1” company, combining the two most popular activities during the night: watching a movie and going out to dinner. While other theaters in the area primarily offer popcorn, candy and other packaged commodities, the Alamo boasts of a vast number of meals and desserts, some of which include: hamburgers, pizza, sandwiches, salads, spaghetti, homemade milkshakes, cookies and ice cream. While the food itself can’t be considered five-star dining by anyone’s standards, it currently ranks somewhere between the quality one would find at a mid-level bar to that at a fine cafe.

The customer service is also superb in the delivery as well. They greet each customer and presume to ask as if they are new to the theater. If so, they walk them through the process for ordering and paying, as well as contacting the server if a problem arises.

While the excellent customer service and atmosphere are nice, the core experience of a movie theater is the movie itself. Thankfully the Alamo Drafthouse has excelled in every way possible. Not only do they not show any advertisements before the film starts, but they actually show content related to the film whether that be from Saturday Night Live skits or interviews of the actors, directors, and producers. Once the film starts, the Alamo’s strict no talking, texting or showing up late rule really adds to the experience. No longer does one see a group of teenagers texting on their phones or a group of people talking throughout the film.

In addition, the Alamo has a 18-and-older policy, in which no one under the age of 18 is allowed into the theater unless accompanied by an adult. While it may be inconvenient for some, overall it is a monumental step in the right direction as it makes the theater feel more professional and sophisticated.

In addition to its strict policies and unique features, what sets the Alamo Drafthouse apart from other theaters is the community. Employees are often movie fanatics themselves, and there is a synergy between the customers and the workers in which discussions about favorite films or new releases are debated. The Alamo also hosts “specialty screenings” that further cements a community of people actively involved with the Alamo. These screenings often have a theme such as “Bond Marathon” where every James Bond film is screened over the course of a month or “The Hateful Great” where in honor of Quentin Tarantino’s new film The Hateful Eight, showed all of films leading up to the premier.

The next program coming to the Alamo is “Alamo Family,” in which they are premiering famous, family films such as Batman with Adam West and Burt Ward and The Monster Squad. All these events make the Alamo feel less like a movie theater and more similar to a social gathering.

The Alamo Drafthouse has convinced many people to flock to Downtown Kalamazoo and for good reason. Its superb quality makes it an excellent choice to spend the evening and it far exceeds its competitors both in its service and atmosphere, as well as its policies and cuisine. Despite the hassle of having to reserve tickets a couple days in advance, it still remains to be well worth it.

By: Brian Hall


I am a senior in high school and the Business Manager of the newspaper. I enjoy running, skiing, and hanging out with friends and family. Next year I will be attending Colby College, a small liberal arts school in the heart of Maine with intentions to explore different educational opportunities.


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