The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema project that promised to open by late 2014 is finally taking shape in the old New Mission Theater at Mission and 22nd. They've got a big "COMING 2015" banner out front now, and as the Chronicle reports, the goal is to get open by the fall meaning anytime before December 21.
News about the coming of Alamo Drafthouse dates back to 2012, when the Austin-based chain announced its expansion here and plans to revive the long-dormant, historic New Mission. The grand old theater, which extends in back behind what was formerly the Giant Value store (now a new condo development) and used to seat 2,050 people will be subdivided into five screens, with one main screen (320 seats) on the ground level preserving the old proscenium, and four upstairs on the balcony and mezzanine levels ranging in size from 30 to 150 seats. And the Alamo Drafthouse concept is sort of a higher end version of what they do at the Sundance Kabuki and The New Parkway in Oakland there's a chef and a full dinner menu, 32 beers on tap (and more by the bottle), and seat-side service by waitstaff.
Of course the Chron is quick to point out that all these servers moving around and delivering orders must be distracting for moviegoers, but CEO Tim League assures them that it is "silent service," and orders are placed either before the movie begins or silently by filling out forms and putting them up next to your seat as little flags. They're then delivered to lighted tables next to seats. "It’s not a pure cinematheque experience," says League. "There is going to be some element of disruption, but we are very careful to overcompensate." Part of that overcompensation means cracking down on all talking and texting.
The theater is being respectfully renovated as we speak, preserving as much as possible of the Art Deco lobby by architect Timothy Pflueger (who also designed the Castro Theatre) and the 1916 auditorium designed by the famed Reid Brothers' firm (who also designed the Cliff House, and the Grand Lake Theater in Oakland). You can see a whole series of pre-renovation photos here, and you can watch the construction process live via a Dropcam. The total cost of the project (which is being underwritten in part by the condo developer next door) may be around $10 million, though that's unconfirmed. The grand marquee sign will be polished up, and the new name will be Alamo Drafthouse at the New Mission.