Locally Owned Downtown Arthouse Theater Makes for a Delightful Evening

14 Feb

Hearing much hype on the Violet Crown Cinema (VCC), I was eager to check out the new independent theater downtown named after one of Austin’s oldest monikers.

Situated in the Warehouse district on 2nd street in downtown Austin, the theater is in one of the most budding areas of town. Much like the Regal Arbor and the now closed, Dobie Theater, Violet Crown screens art house movies.

My husband and I headed to downtown one Saturday evening to catch The Descendants. Unfortunately, to our surprise and ill preparation, the show was sold out. I forgot you can’t go to dinner/drink theater on the weekend nights in Austin, walk up, and expect to get a ticket anymore. It’s not happening!

The next weekend, attempt two, was a success!  Tickets pre-purchased and parking was a synch. There was free parking in the Amli garage attached to the Violet Crown or free valet in front of Malaga for theater goers. We were extremely pleased, because free parking is a rare find in downtown especially with the City Council abandoning free after hours parking at meters on nights and weekends.

We sipped wine in the VCC’s lounge and waited for the call to enter the theater. Seating begins 5 minutes before the scheduled show time, but there is no mad dash to pick out the best seat in the house. That is all figured out before you get to the theater. Like making pre-flight arrangements, you can pick your seats online.

Hands full of food and wine; we made our way into the theater and attempted to balance our food and drink, while showing the attendant our tickets. Many struggled with this awkward exchange before finding their way to their seats.

Lounging in my comfy seat, I up righted my smaller than expected middle school desk sized tray table and layered my plate of pizza and cake balls on one another, wine in hand and noticed a set of even more attractive seats below my feet. Usually the front row is reserved for the late comers and shunned by most, but it is the crown jewels of the Violet Crown.  The row is made up of recliners with plump foot rests and a cup holder. I thought to myself, “Who do you have to know to get those seats?” Turns out you don’t have to know anyone. You just have to ask. The seats are for handicap patrons and offered based on availability to everyone else. Just get to the theater early enough to reserve. It appears to be the best seat in the house.

While there are servers in the lounge, there are no servers inside the theater so if you want another drink you may have to play rock, paper, scissors with friends; however I suggest splitting a bottle of wine or two to prevent this very easily avoidable problem.

Also get to the theater early so you can eat and enjoy some equitable drinks in the bar and lounge.  In addition to typical movie candy favorites and popcorn, the theater does have a selection of appetizers and small plates from ginger pork tapas to specialty pizzas to “snack” on. I really enjoyed a delicious inexpensive house cab, thin crust margarita pizza, and some innovative cake balls.

While there were a few issues, a couple could have been avoided by reading the cinema’s official site www.violetcrowncinema.com. It’s a fairly new venue so it is education process for those new to the theater. Read the site, be prepared, tips appear on the site.

All in all, although a slightly higher weekend ticket price than the normal box offices in Austin, the theater is a great venue for checking out limited release films, makes a great date night, and is locally owned.

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