Florida-based Frank Theatres brings movies with a meal back to Bonita

The interior of the Starlight Cafe inside the Frank Theatre in York, Pa., reflects the contemporary look for Frank Theatres' food-and-films concept.

The interior of the Starlight Cafe inside the Frank Theatre in York, Pa., reflects the contemporary look for Frank Theatres' food-and-films concept.

This a photo of one of  Frank Theatres' newer East coast cinemas.

This a photo of one of Frank Theatres' newer East coast cinemas.

The Cinema Cafe, in the Prado Shopping Center in Bonita Springs, opened its doors in 2012.

Photo by Allie Garza

The Cinema Cafe, in the Prado Shopping Center in Bonita Springs, opened its doors in 2012.

— After going dark — suddenly — nearly two years ago, movies are returning to Bonita Springs, at the Prado shopping center on U.S. 41. And dinner is coming with them.

The Frank Theatres chain, based in Jupiter, is opening a CineGrille movie theater in the space previously occupied first by Regal Cinemas, and then the short-lived Prado Cinema Café. With a projected mid-June opening, the "food 'n' flicks" operation will offer an all-in-one entertainment experience, giving patrons one-stop shopping for dinner and a movie.

Like Silverspot at the Mercato in Naples, CineGrille will have a wide selection of food items, plus beer and wine, in addition to the traditional sodas, popcorn and candy. Customers can buy food and dine in the theaters as they watch movies.

Bruce Frank, CEO of the theater operator, said his company has a tried-and-true concept ready to put into operation at the Prado. With 300 screens in 27 locations from Miami to upstate New York, Frank Theatres has five existing CineGrilles.

"We like this market, and we like the space," he said. Putting table space for a wider selection of food items, he said, "is not the coming thing — it's here." He said CineGrille will be much like Silverspot, but he expects to undercut its pricing by a good deal.

"It's a very similar experience. I think they do a nice job, but they're very pricey," said Frank. "We're focused on being very price-sensitive."

CineGrille will offer "the most aggressive loyalty programs in the market," and significant senior discounts, he said. Equipment and fixtures in their theaters will be new and first-rate, Frank said.

"We have leather high-backed rockers, and six auditoriums with 3-D," he said. All sound and projection units will be digital, with Sony 4-K digital projectors.

Frank promised to go beyond the Hollywood blockbusters in his lineup of films.

"We'll have alternative content. We're dedicated to running independent and art films," he said, "I think there is an audience for those here."

He said they would look into licensing opera performances and live events such as boxing matches.

Joe Corso owns "That Special Dress," a special occasion dress shop in the Prado, north of the theater space, and has been at the Prado for more than six years.

"I'll be happy to see the place back in operation," he said. "It was a good little theater once, and showed a lot of good foreign and (independent) films."

Business in the center has been tough for several years, he said, adding: "There's been a number of vacancies, and some restaurants have come and gone."

Perhaps the quickest coming and going was the Prado Cinema Café, which opened in September 2010 and shut its doors seven weeks later. It was owned by a company whose principal, James Duffy, has been sued at least 69 times and racked up at least $24.6 million in judgments for not paying bills.

Frank promises his company is there for the long haul, and said the slower summer months will give Frank Theatres time to get operations running smoothly, and allow it to cater to year-round residents.

"This gives us the perfect time to get the people who live in the market into our theaters," he said.

Frank Entertainment also operates restaurants, clubs and bowling alleys, and some theaters are paired with bowling, said Frank, indicating that could be a future possibility at Prado.

Frank Theatres in March announced plans to install a percentage of D-BOX MFX seats, seats that enhance the movie experience with a sense of motion, in five of its theaters. The first one, in Southern Pines, S.C., opened 27 of the seats for "The Hunger Games."

The company has not finalized pricing or a slate of films for its Bonita opening, but hopes to announce those in early June, Frank said.

© 2012 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Stories

Comments » 0

Be the first to post a comment!

Share your thoughts

Comments are the sole responsibility of the person posting them. You agree not to post comments that are off topic, defamatory, obscene, abusive, threatening or an invasion of privacy. Violators may be banned. Click here for our full user agreement.

Comments can be shared on Facebook and Yahoo!. Add both options by connecting your profiles.

Features