Efforts to transform the area around Wrigley Field, once filled with sports bars and dives, began soon after the Ricketts family took ownership of the Chicago Cubs in 2009, and the movie theater has long been part of that vision.
Now, 14 years later, Alamo Drafthouse—an Austin, Texas theater chain beloved by moviegoers known for special screenings with the occasional celebrity appearance—has opened its first Chicago location, seamlessly integrating with the new restaurants and hotels that have overtaken the corner of Addison and Clark in the last few years; there is even $10 parking in the attached garage with entrance from Clark. The theater is decorated with vintage and foreign movie posters, plus a large set of VHS tapes available for rent.
Cinemark, which has more than 300 locations across America, built the 30,426-square-foot space that debuted over the weekend, but canceled plans for Wrigleyville during the pandemic’s economic downturn and left room for the Alamo’s new six-screen theater. On Thursday, the Alamo dedicated the theater to director John Hughes. Although he was born in Michigan, many of Hughes’ comedies like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Alone at home, took place around Chicago and its suburbs.
The Alamo enlisted two actors, Alison Brie and her husband Dave Franco, to appear Friday while promoting their Amazon Studios film, Someone I used to know. Alamo co-founder Tim League says Alamo is passionate about the Chicago location and typically opens more than one theater in the market. So look for future expansion.
The league is confident that movie theaters will recover from the challenges of the pandemic and called the idea that the industry is dead “absolute nonsense.”
“You have a kitchen in your house, but you still go to restaurants,” Liga said at a preview event on Thursday, January 26.
Alamo theaters also feature fully equipped kitchens for dining in the movie while sitting in reclining leather chairs. Customers record their orders on the paper forms provided. Pressing a button will alert a “ninja-trained” clerk — dressed in black, a way to minimize their distractions — to pick up the order. The menu includes flavored popcorn (the churro popcorn comes with bits of Mexican pastry), mozzarella sticks and other finger foods. Burgers, pizzas and salads complete the menu. The chain is also known for its shakes.
Video Vortex is a bar that is open to the public with cocktails and 32 beer taps. League tells Eater he’s developed several drink recipes using Jeppson’s Malört (he’s not a big fan of drinking it straight). One of his favorites is the malört old-fashioned. None of League’s recipes appear on the drink menu, but the bar does have a drink called “Save Ferris” with Malort and an orange slice. Go through the space below.
Alamo Drafthouse Chicago and Video whirlwind, 3519 N. Clark Street, Video Vortex open 4 p.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday; Friday from 4:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m.; noon to 2 a.m. Saturday; noon to 8pm Sunday.