Stony Point Fashion Park just got a shot in the arm with the addition of CinAcbistro, the sixth in an upscale movie-and-restaurant chain. It's billed as a premium theatrical experience, over-21s only, with all-digital offerings as varied as live opera from the Met, sports events or first-run mainstream and art-house flicks. Richmond's version, which opens Friday, is a multimillion-dollar, clublike space with six theaters and a full kitchen serving appetizers (popcorn calamari, flatbread with brie and figs, wings, hummus), entrees and desserts. Purists can still get candy and popcorn.
At a preview Friday, the concept came with a caveat: This is not an '80s-style cinema and draft house, where noisy service and B movies created a lesser ideal than the current buzz words: luxurious, regional-specific, chef-prepared cuisine, human touch and digital integration, a 360-degree experience. This may be corporate-speak, but the investment is sizable. Other projects are in Miami, Vail, Colo., and Tampa, Fla. There's also one in Hampton Roads where an upscale bowling alley adds to the mix.
American food, cocktails and wines from a 40-bottle list are delivered to reserved-seat tables only during a 14-minute preview segment before each show. If customers want more, they order at the bar and are given buzzers that signal when items are ready for pick-up.
The Facebook movie with pan-seared salmon, or Pink Floyd's “The Wall” with a triple crA"me brA¯lAce? The concept condenses a dinner-and-movie date to one place, one bill. Gratuities are added at 17.5 percent, but guests may change that fee in either direction. They can eat and drink in the lobby or at the bar if not attending a show, or can see a show without ordering refreshments, though this defeats the average $35-per-person business model.
More impressive than the spacious interior design is management's nod to local talent: 60 of 800 applicants made the cut for service and kitchen staffs, and their training in concierge-style hosting is already evident. “We want this to be a wow experience,” general manager Matthew Russell says -- “a five-star, state-of-the-art experience from your seat.” And a parting glance from corporate chef Isaac Stewart: “I'd put it up against any of the better restaurants in the city.” Doors open Friday, with weekend hours until 2 a.m., and weeknights until midnight. cobbcinebistro.com.
Coming to Shockoe Bottom: Three longtime friends are jumping into the restaurant business with a new three-level space, the Lounge Bar and Grille, at 1717 E. Franklin St., around the corner from Julep's. Partners Daniel Brooks, Lewis Elliott and Nicholas Johnson are finishing work in the spot that was planned as a branch of sushi house Akida, but sat vacant for a few years. Now the owners are setting up a “social bar, not a club,” Brooks says, “with private dining downstairs, live bands and DJs and contemporary jazz and the finer things.”
Chef Jeremy Bannon, formerly of Ruth's Chris, will oversee the steak and seafood menu; sushi and a range of burgers, sandwiches and bar appetizers also will be offered starting Nov. 1 when the business opens. It will serve nightly except Sundays. 308-1978. theloungebarandgrille.com.
Brewing at Balliceaux: One of the Fan's favorite haunts plays host to a beer dinner filled with oxymorons, from beverages to foods, on Oct. 25. The event's inspiration is a team effort between Left Hand Brewing and Terrapin Beer, which collaborated to make an American-style India pale ale with German malts and hops that's “obnoxious but reserved, elevated yet modest,” and part of a series that's well regarded by beer enthusiasts. Four brew-friendly courses prepared by Balliceaux chef Russell Cook promise to keep unexpected contrasts in play. $40 per person by reservation; reception at 6 p.m., dinner at 7. 203 N. Lombardy St., 355-3008. balliceauxrva.com.
Cocktail hour at Chez: Now flourishing in its late-day persona, downtown's Chez Foushee unveils Friday happy hours with special drink pricing and savory appetizers. Through the end of this month, celebrations of the restaurant's 21st anniversary include special weekend menus and seatings for a $21, three-course meal. New dishes for fall are pork tenderloin scaloppine with wild mushroom sauce and chicken supreme with cranberry pomegranate sauce for lunch, and seared duck breast over sweet-potato purAce and a natural rib-eye with chimichurri sauce for dinner. 203 N. Foushee St., 648-3225. chezfoushee.com.
Farmers feast: Celebrate a fall harvest dinner Oct. 25 with some of the area's favorite purveyors in a benefit for Shalom Farms, a nonprofit community farm project focused on feeding low-income neighborhoods. Chef Todd Johnson of Mezzanine will prepare a seasonal, four-course dinner with produce from Shalom Farms, Rock Castle Farms, Manakintowne Specialty Growers and Roots and Feathers Farm. Vegetarian options are available. Tickets are $60 each, fully tax deductible. Call 266-9350 for details, or purchase tickets online at shalomfarms.eventbrite.com.