As you know, we’re about to get two new dine-in cinemas via the soon-to-open Alamo Drafthouse in Downtown Brooklyn and the forthcoming Nitehawk Prospect Park. But wait, make that three new dine-ins: iPic, a Florida-based chain, just opened a location at the South Street Seaport, right next to Smorgasburg.
If Nitehawk and Alamo are the hip, tastemaking Momofukus of dine-in theaters, think of iPic as Spice Market (incidentally, Jean-Georges Vongerichten is opening a couple of places next to the theater). Billing itself as an “affordable luxury” experience, the place is unabashedly upscale and clubby from the moment you walk in, and will feel familiar to anyone who’s been to a VIP theater in a Bangkok luxury shopping mall. Even the easel displaying film posters looks like it’s made of Terminator-esque liquid metal.
In the lobby, there’s a counter where you can buy tickets if you didn’t select seats via the iPic app. Next to it, you can sample the reclining seats to decide whether they’re worth the $28 to $32, depending on showtime. These “Premium Plus” seats are the only ones that get pillows, and a plush blankie, and waiters that are summoned to you via call buttons.
Otherwise, you’ll have to settle for a non-reclining “Premium” seat ($16-$20) or one of the two-person Space Odyssey-esque chaise lounges ($16-$20) in the front row (see top of this page).
As if to encourage face-sucking on these make-out mats, one of the lobby walls is done up with a Dasic Fernandez mural that exudes #Sexytime.
Up the escalators, there’s another selfie-friendly mural, by Mr. Never Satisfied, in the concessions and bar area.
If you’re a poor plebe who didn’t lock down a dine-in seat, this is where you grab some “hot nosh bites” (their words, not mine): the grab-and-go menu, created by a former Spago chef, features pizzas ($15-$18), sliders ($17-$22) and “sammies” such as a $21 lobster roll. At the bar, the “handcrafted” cocktails come with dramatic flourishes such as liquid nitrogen clouds that resemble the money evaporating from your pocket. You can buy these by the glass ($10-$17) or by the shaker ($28-$56). The wines are “farm-to-glass,” naturally. And there’s a Japanese-style slow-drip coffee brewer used for “dessertails.”
There’s also “seasonal” popcorn, and– next to the dispenser– a piece by Joe Iurato.
His work continues in the hallways, which are clogged with an overabundance of cheerful staffers.
Is that reclaimed wood I spy?
And look, there’s Holly Golightly herself. What a perfect mascot for this place.
Speaking of Mascots, that’s what I saw here. That’s right: Thanks to a partnership with Netflix, you can now pay an absurd amount of money to watch a movie that’s available for free at home. I won’t rag on this too much because I actually like seeing movies in the theater– if nothing else, it prevents you from dicking around on Twitter and ruining the movie for yourself when you read about Donald Trump’s latest affront.
Speaking of Donald Trump, the two-person chaise lounges do not have arm rests. They’re also just a little too close to the screen, so you end up paying for a slight neck ache.
When the movie’s over, you might think to yourself, “Crap, I’m stuck in the South Street Seaport. Where can I get a drink?” Well, upstairs is a highly dubious answer to your question. It’s called the Tuck Room, and it resembles the classiest sports bar in Houston, Texas.
Next to the hostess stand is a faux library that apparently leads to a secret room.
I can’t say much more about the lounge because, truthfully, I only went upstairs to use the bathrooms, which are as posh as you’d imagine. Safe to say the frosted-glass privacy dividers at the urinals are the best of any movie theater in town, though that’s not saying a lot.
There is one thing that should be noted about the Tuck Room: Behind the bar are “ice DJs” that carve 45-pound blocks of ice. Admittedly, I may have buried the lede here, because plenty of people would refuse to patronize a theater based solely on the fact that it has an “ice DJ.” And rest assured, the cheesiness carries over to the cocktail menu, which instructs you to “connect with your inner wanderlust” by paying $20 for a premium drink.
Will I be back to iPic? It’s hard to say. Maybe if I wanted to watch the sequel to The Wolf of Wall Street in the most nouveau riche environment possible. Until then, I’ll probably forgo the housemade bitters and just sneak some hooch into the reclining-seat theater on Third Avenue.