An evening of being led to a table in the far back corner of a restaurant as a hostess warily eyes my pint-sized crew, knowing that a single cracker in those cute little hands has the potential to scatter crumbs farther than the naked eye can see.
An evening of excusing myself once again as we pass between viewers and the big screen on our third trip to the restroom, missing half a movie that cost nearly a mortgage payment to see.
It’s understandable that some parents do everything within their power to keep family nights at home, safe from the comedy of errors that inevitably occur as soon as any public space is entered.
However, our house is filled with a group of easily restless spirits who get stir-crazy if we’re stuck within the same walls for longer than a REM cycle.
At some point, on a messy Saturday evening, dinner and a movie will call to us, and, after dressing the kids in prints designed to hide dribbled pasta sauce, we will confidently head back to Cinema Grill.
Located off Interstate 225 and East Alameda Avenue in Aurora, Cinema Grill smartly melds a restaurant atmosphere with the silver screen experience.
In small viewing rooms containing between 70 and 150 seats, moviegoers can sit side-by-side at a counter-top setup or family-style at round tables, all with swivel seating. The room is cozy, but the chairs are spaced out and aisles are easily accessed.
Menu items – and prices – are comparable to sports bar fare, while still offering traditional snacks such as popcorn. Servers glide between the seats with ease, delivering everything from nachos and pizza to chicken cordon bleu throughout the showing. An impressive list of drinks is available, including an extensive page of adult beverages such as beer, wine, specialty drinks and cocktails.
The theater, opened in 1994 by locals Steven and Marianne Sowin, tenders a cartoonish vibe in the lobby with vibrant colors, swirling blue neon ceiling lights and a checkered kiosk for ticket sales. Ticket costs are reasonable, a mere $2 for a matinee (any movie beginning before 6 p.m.) and $4 for an evening show. Tuesdays boast half prices the entire day.
This isn’t the place to go if a fresh-from-the-studio movie is being sought. The movies featured are often releases that have already been out for a few months and, on occasion, are on the cusp of DVD.
However, since having children, my concept of a new release has changed to mean anything in the last year and a half, so there are plenty from which to choose. A few animated kids’ choices are usually intermixed with the teen and adult-themed options.
With dinner and the movie blended, our outing is compacted into a one-stop venture, lessening the potential for little minds to get bored or tired before the plot thickens and eliminating our chances of stepping on strangers’ feet on yet another trip down the hall.
And about those crumbs? Well, in the dark, it’s as though they don’t even exist.
If You Go
13682 E. Alameda Ave.
Aurora, Colorado 80012
Sheri L. Thompson of Denver is a freelance photojournalist.