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Finally, the 18th Amendment has been repealed (at your moviehouse!) • Brooklyn Paper

Finally, the 18th Amendment has been repealed (at your moviehouse!)

Bartender Amy Graeff serves up an Alan Partridge at Nitehawk Cinema’s opening this weekend.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Coming soon to a theater near you — booze while you watch!

The state ended the last vestige of Prohibition last month, allowing dine-in movie theaters to serve alcohol — instead of just food — while a film is being screened.

And independent theater owners are lining up to get their liquor licenses.

“It really just provides a better overall movie-going experience for our customers,” said Nitehawk’s Matthew Viragh, whose Metropolitan Avenue movie house has been serving four-star meals with first-run movies but without the five-star attraction: booze.

Viragh — and his lobbyist — campaigned heavily this spring for the legislature to change the law, pointing to the success of theaters in Texas and Virginia in luring thirsty mature audiences to independent films.

The law permits venues to serve alcohol — spirits or just wine and beer — with “ordinary meals”; you won’t be able to drown your existential angst at the next Woody Allen movie unless you order more than fries.

But the impact of the bill will go far beyond merely allowing adults to have a good time, but actually help bolster struggling moviehouses by drawing in normal, mature adults who want dinner and a movie, not just the teenagers content with a loud “Transformers” film, a Mountain Dew and popcorn.

“Adults aren’t enjoying going to the movies [which cater to] adolescents,” said Cathy Peake, a spokeswoman for Assemblyman Joe Lentol (D–Greenpoint), who sponsored the bill. “The theater industry is looking to create new venues for adults want to see movies and not be at the same place where kids are.”

Nitehawk isn’t wasting any time in taking advantage of the new law, which took effect on Aug. 17, by filing with the State Liquor Authority to alter its liquor license. If Community Board 1 rubber stamps the application as expected next month, Nitehawk could become the first theater in the state to offer beer during its films.

It won’t be the only one.

Williamsburg’s indieScreen, which opened a refurbished kitchen and bar this week, may expand its liquor license too — with some restrictions of its own.

“I’m calling my lawyer tomorrow,” said indieScreen’s Marco Ursino. “But I think only beer and wine will be allowed. You want to be able to focus on the film.”

Kenn Lowy, who recently bought the Brooklyn Heights Cinema, agrees, saying he intends to file for a liquor license as soon as possible.

“People always come here, especially European tourists, and ask for beer, and I’ve had to say, ‘No, we don’t do that.’ ”

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