Frank Lewis, director operations for AMC Theaters, explains how the company prevents sales of alcohol to minors during a presentation to the Morrow City Council Tuesday. The theater chain is seeking the city’s permission to begin serving alcohol at its Southlake location. (Staff Photo: Curt Yeomans)
MORROW — AMC Theaters wants to serve alcohol to patrons at its Southlake location as part of an ongoing effort to improve the movie-going experience, a high-ranking official from the theater chain told Morrow leaders Tuesday.
Frank Lewis, director of operations for AMC, told city council members that concession sales help the theater stay in business more than ticket prices do, and therefore the types of drinks and food offered are important to its success. The company has a pending request before the council to begin selling alcohol by installing a MacGuffins Bar in the theater lobby.
“The No. 1 most important thing for us is the guests coming in to watch a movie,” said Lewis. “Really there’s nothing that we want to do as a business to hurt that because once you hurt the attendance, everything else is based off of that …
“So, with us, we really base everything around how can we add amenities that really make the movie-going experience worth getting off the couch and coming back for,” he added.
Officials from AMC have been pursuing the city council’s permission concerning alcohol sales for at least a month, but city leaders have been taking their time to gather information and carefully review the plan.
In response to the council’s request for additional information, the theater chain decided to bring out the heavy hitters by flying Lewis in from the company’s headquarters in Kansas.
But even after Lewis’ presentation, council members continued to mull over the request and have not given a date for when they plan to vote on the matter.
The potential for minors to have access to alcohol in the theater is that main issue that has caused city leaders to be cautious with the request and to take their time in reviewing the proposal.
Lewis said there are certain steps staff will be required to take to ensure underage theater patrons do not have access to alcohol sold at MacGuffins. He added all staff will be trained on what steps they should take, and how to determine if someone is breaking the rules or is too drunk.
“We will have every possible set of eyes in the theater watching guests at all times,” said Lewis.
There will be a zero tolerance policy in place that states any employee who is found to have served alcohol to a minor or to have not checked a patron’s identification before serving alcohol will be terminated.
“There’s no second chance, there’s no gray area,” said Lewis. “If you serve a minor or if you allow a minor to consume alcohol or you don’t check ID, you will be terminated.”
The steps he said staff will take to ensure alcohol is only sold to adults include:
• Alcohol will be sold to ticketed guests only.
• Everyone will be carded before they are sold alcohol regardless of how old they appear.
• All bartenders must be over 21.
• Distinctive cups will be used for alcohol only.
• The theater will partner with local law enforcement to help monitor who is drinking the alcohol.
• Cameras will be installed in the bar area.
• Mystery shoppers will be sent in to anonymously see if staff are complying with the rules.