The National Theater in London was one of the pioneers of in-house entertainment venues in theaters. The riverside complex in London includes a fine dining restaurant, a bookstore, and other casual food choices. Drinks are standard choices in modern theaters. Patrons, as well as the cast, mingle in these new restaurants and bars. Patrons and the cast discuss the play and any other theater chatter that is worthy of the night. The Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago recently opened a new theater and a lounge. The Lincoln Park theater is one of many theaters that are making the theater experience a multidimensional experience. These new theater venues are worthy of the name “dinner theaters.”
The Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, designed by the French architect Jean Nouvel, has a gift shop, fine restaurants, and bars in their new entertainment complex. Thanks to a number of transit options, theater patrons can drink and not drive home after the performance. That is an attractive and important feature, according to a recent article published by the New York Times.
Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theater has a members list that includes Gary Sinise and John Malkovich. The theater opened a third stage last year. That venue is an 80-seat theater designed for intimate shows. The new extension has a Front Bar inspired by the popular Boka restaurant group. The Front Bar is a coffee house that opens at 7 a.m. Lunch and dinner menu includes pizza, sandwiches, and salads. The bar is open until midnight, and it draws a pre-and post-curtain crowd of patrons as well as cast members.
Second City, the famous comedy club, did the same thing last year when the club opened the 1959 Restaurant and Bar. The eatery got its name from the year the club was opened. Mingling with actors is not a new idea, but the concept is being expanded thanks to the addition of upbeat restaurants and bars in the theaters. Patrons love the idea. They can enjoy a meal before the show in the theater, and they can hang around after the show and talk to the cast. That’s a true 21st-century dinner theater experience.