If you’ve taken a car up the West Side Highway in recent years, you may have remarked at the pyramid shaped apartment complex that is VIA 57 West.
The building, which borders Hell’s Kitchen and the Upper West Side, is primarily residential, but for a span of time between 2017 and 2020, the lower levels housed a Landmark Cinema. The eight-auditorium movie theatre closed for good when pandemic-related declines in ticket sales compounded the difficulties they were already having getting people to travel all the way to the Hudson just to catch a flick. (Having completed only 1/10th of their 30 year lease, Landmark was subsequently sued by their landlords, the Durst Organization).
But movies will be back at 625 West 57th Street as early as this summer – and you’ll be able to order a variety of craft cocktails, entrees, appetizers, and desserts while you watch. The theatre will be run by Look Dine-In Cinemas, which has locations in six states across the country (including one in Dobbs Ferry, New York).
The project is being spearheaded by Brian Schultz, an early pioneer of the movie-and-meal concept. His company, Studio Movie Grille, ran 35 theaters prior to October 2020, when they made the decision to file for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy due to the pandemic.
This experience led Brian to ask himself, “If we were going to try to recreate the entire moviegoing community, what would we do?;” a question that prompted this next phase of his career, and a new version of the food-and-film vision.
The area surrounding VIA 57 West has changed too, with the continued development of Hudson Yards, extension of the Highline, and other new commercial and residential projects in the area. And with movie theatres around the city continuing to close, there may be a vacuum to fill in the cinema space.
Who knows? With the forthcoming resurrection of the Metro Theater, which was confirmed late last year, it may not be long before Upper West Siders have two locations to choose from to have hot food, strong drinks, and new movies.
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