Instead of having the usual popcorn and soda at the multiplex while watching the latest Hollywood shoot-’em-up, why not enjoy tasty hummus and a cold 5 Barrel draught as a South Korean monster movie explodes in front of your eyes?
Intimate theaters, independent and foreign films, and the opportunity to munch on buffalo dolmas instead of Sour Patch Kids – a whole new movie going experience has hit Fort Collins in the form of the Lyric Cinema Caf/.
“So far it seems like we’re not going to lose our shirts on this,” said Ben Mozer, who co-owns the cafe with Josh Glossi. “People are showing up, which is a good thing.”
The theater has been open since April 11 and do not worry, if dolmas and hummus are not your ideal cinema cuisine, popcorn and candy are available.
Both owners are 27-year-old Fort Collins natives and have known each other for 25 years.
Located at 300 E. Mountain Ave. in Old Town, the Lyric has the distinction of being the only independent movie theater in Fort Collins.
“It’s a much more relaxed atmosphere, people can come here to have a fun time,” Mozer said in an interview in the projection/office room, which looked like it housed a newly opened business, as papers were scattered everywhere.
Currently only the main theater is open, which seats about 80 people – 60 in seats and 20 on couches – and has a 12-by-6-foot screen. The Lyric crew, a staff of five including the owners, is hoping the smaller theater, which will hold about 45 people, will be unveiled in a month.
“The best show we ever had was a showing of ‘Air Guitar Nation.’ This was the night that people really got it, even though not many people showed up, maybe only 15 people came to the show total,” Mozer said. “But everybody ordered a bottle of wine and a bunch of food, and went in and laughed, clapped, whistled and had a good old time.”
This is the epitome of what the Lyric is trying to offer its patrons – a laid-back and engaged alternative to the larger theaters in town, the Carmike 10 on Manhattan Avenue and Cinemark 16 on S. Timberline Road.
Movie theaters in Fort Collins occasionally screen independent movies, but not on a regular basis.
No particular type of film or genre will be given preference over others. So far the Lyric has shown “Cinema Paradiso,” a 1989 Italian film played at both grand opening nights; “Little Children,” a drama exposing the sultry and dark side of American suburbia; and the aforementioned “Air Guitar Nation,” a documentary chronicling the battle of who will be anointed world champion air shredder.
Currently “The Host,” an anything but typical horror movie, and “The Namesake,” an Indian family drama based on Jhumpa Lahiri’s novel of the same name, are being shown.
“We have ‘The Host’ right now and this is my ideal of a film, it breaks all types of genres, boundaries and rules,” Mozer said. “There are very few films that try and break out of those boundaries, like romantic comedy or action movie, and those are the ones I want to show.”
Besides the two theaters, the caf/ contains about eight tables and countertop seating. The menu offers a wide variety of finger foods: an egg and Brie sandwich, olive platter and ancho chili chocolate cake. Soda, local microbrews and domestic beers, and wine are all sold as well.
The caf/ has an old-school diner feel to it and the counters are decorated with pictures from thousands of movies, from “Platoon” to “Point Break,” “James Bond” to “Joe Dirt.”
Mozer and Glossi did most of the construction themselves and used mostly reused materials, such as seats from the Dairy Center for the Arts in Boulder, and the soundboard, trim and lights from the old Rocky Mountain News building.
One misconception Mozer is trying to fight is that people do not have to go to a movie to be able to sit down and eat. Just coming in for a quick bite and a drink is fine with him.
“I want people to come in the caf/ and give the food a shot, it seems like people have been afraid to come in,” Mozer said. “And we do have a happy hour, with specials on drinks and food.”
And if that does not entice people, there are special events like Movie Trivia Hour every Thursday at 5 p.m. and the Late Night Cults and Classics series, which will begin this weekend with the showing of “Raising Arizona,” the zany Nicolas Cage comedy directed by the Coen brothers.
Special screenings lasting only a couple of days will also be held, such as the documentary “Iraq in Fragments” starting its three-day run next week.
The Lyric already has two jubilant fans.
“I love it, we’ve seen every movie they’ve got so far except ‘The Namesake,’ said Laura Williams, a 30-year-old who lives in Fort Collins, who was sitting in the caf/ on a recent Tuesday evening playing speed-Scrabble with her friend Maggie Clark.
“I’ve been looking forward to this,” Williams added, “I like that it’s close and we can ride our bikes to it.”
Clark, a 30-year-old who also lives in Fort Collins, could not agree more.
“I like the combination of caf/ and theater, it’s fun and local, and they’ve got a great movie selection,” Clark said, as the two sipped beers and instrumental funk music played in the background.
Other patrons were experiencing the Lyric for the first time.
“It’s intimate and comfortable, you can hear people clanking their wine glasses together accidentally,” said Jennifer Hensleigh, a 58-year-old who lives in Fort Collins and is a CSU alum.
Hensleigh and her husband had just finished watching “The Namesake.”
“This time we got the usual popcorn and soda, but we saw the bottles of wine and glasses and thought that’s what we got to do next time,” Hensleigh said.
The caf/ has only been open a couple weeks, and even though the process of bringing the Lyric to fruition took almost a year, Mozer is still confident it will succeed.
“The whole process has been a nightmare as everything is a bump in the road,” Mozer said while laughing. “I don’t think there is one thing we did where we didn’t have to fight.”
Staff writer Brian Park can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cruise on Down to the Lyric
300 E. Mountain Ave. in Old Town
Ticket prices: $6.50 for students, $8 for adults and $6 during matinee shows
For show times and more information visit www.lyriccinemacafe.com.