Date Night: Dinner and a movie

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly
The Torpedo Room

Gone are the days when couples had to drive around town to grab dinner and catch a movie. Two local cinemas are drawing moviegoers with more than just popcorn and soda.

Studio 35 Cinema & Drafthouse opened in 1938, and the single-screen theater started serving beer and pizza in 1972. "That's one of the draws to our place-we have 40 taps of beer. What's better than watching a movie with pizza and beer?" says owner Eric Brembeck, who also serves simple, movie-inspired cocktails, like the scotch-only Ron Burgundy, and wine by the glass. So they could offer more than just pizza, Studio 35 now gets their food from Pizza Primo instead of making it in-house. Order standard pizza-joint fare-salads, subs, calzones-from a new menu of Pizza Primo favorites created in December specifically for the theater.

The auditorium at the casual Clintonville theater has both traditional theater seating and tables and chairs, so pass on the popcorn and share a thin-crust pizza with your date during a cult classic (think "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" or "The Big Lebowski") or a new release, like "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," which Brembeck says will be showing at Studio 35 in April.

"The Gateway [Film Center] knew they have the space that wasn't being utilized, and one thing they felt like they were lacking was their food," says serial restaurateur Elizabeth Lessner, who opened The Torpedo Room at the campus theater in January. The concept for the sci-fi, underwater-themed restaurant was inspired by Jules Verne's "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea," Lessner says. "I'm a big believer of creating restaurants that are kind of dreamy and transport you to another time."

Here, you can complete your dinner-and-a-movie experience with a Torpedo or Submarine (mini and full-size sandwiches), salads, soups or flatbreads. The 80-seat Torpedo Room also serves easy-to-transport, gourmet movie snacks you can bring into the auditoriums, like Mac & Cheese Cayenne Pepper Powder Popcorn, Movie Nachos with cheese, scallions, salsa and chorizo, and a Classic Soft Pretzel served with pimento Cloverton dip and mustard.

Lessner also had plans to revamp The Gateway's concessions with reusable popcorn bowls and cups, bulk candy and flavored popcorn early this year. "I was modeling it after where I would want to go on a date with my husband to see a movie and have dinner," says Lessner, who is working to open a cocktail lounge with a different concept upstairs at The Gateway by summer.