Monday, April 1, 2013

At Smitty's almost time for curtains up by Michelle Libby

Smitty’s has never claimed to be an ordinary theater. They have popcorn, slushies and screens, but they also have pizza, fries, beer and comfortable chairs…and they’re coming to Windham.

“Most is done. We have to wrap up the details and clean up,” said Smitty’s partner and manager Tucker Smith about the progress at the Windham Mall location.

Beginning April 9, Smitty’s will have a soft opening. By April vacation the theater will be running at full capacity, ready for their grand opening celebration.

This isn’t Smitty’s first time in Windham. In 2005, Smitty’s also known as Chunky’s left town when 5 Star Cinema moved into the Windham Mall. The Smith’s now have signed a 10-year lease for the vacated cinema. Tucker and his uncle, Milton Smith, have been working on the $1.5 million renovations, including updating all seven theaters to digital picture and sound, redesigning the theaters so each has four platforms each one higher than the one in front. Patrons can choose to sit at a bar table facing the screen or at a smaller table with a group. Seating varies by theater, but they seat between 50 and 115 people. 

A new kitchen was added to the adjacent storefront for their pub-style menu and they are using a new computer system for taking orders. They are considering building a new larger theater when the lease on part of the Big Lots store comes up for renewal in the next few months.

Smith said they had hired between 50 and 60 people. They are still considering applications for experienced servers, but there are only a few openings. Some of the staff they have hired are training at the Biddeford store so they’ll be ready to open, Tucker said. “Most of the (Chunky’s) waitstaff is coming back seven years later. They waited seven years for us,” said Tucker.

Having digital film allows one manager to run all of the theaters. “They play according to schedule,” said Tucker. Everything is set, no need for feeding film or worrying about hotspots, he added.

Smitty’s does more than show movies. All Patriots football games are shown on the big screen with free admission and free popcorn. There are also daily specials during the week. Mondays are $2 margaritas. Tuesday is two for Tuesdays. Guests can buy one appetizer and two entrees for $20. Wednesday is family night where for $25 movie-goers can get a large pizza, wings, soda and fries. Thursday is $2 domestic drafts and a wing special. Friday nights are for the new releases. College students get a discount for showing their college ID. Smitty’s will also have birthday parties. Their first one is already scheduled.

This will be Smitty’s fourth store. Other locations are in Sanford, Biddeford and Tilton, NH.
The Windham theater expects to open on April 9. “Whatever is new that week we’ll have,” said Tucker. “The summer looks good (for movies),” he added.  For more information, visit Smitty’s Cinema on Facebook or 

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