When the Powerhouse Cinema
opens tonight Downtown, it may just redefine what dinner and a movie means.
The cinema, which once housed steam generators for the train station, is the best and brightest in movie technology — recliner seats that recline all the way back, huge screens for IMAX, reserved seating. But we're here to talk about the food.
The Powerhouse features a full-scale restaurant with a wood-fire oven for pizzas. The menu ranges from everything from chicken sandwiches to avocado toast.
You can also get milkshakes and booze 'em up at the bar. Scott Tashie of Malco says the menu covers all the bases. They've got pretzels made by Dave Scott of Dave's Bagels and local beers on tap. The cocktail menu includes nods to both Memphis (Mud Island Tea) and to movies (007).
Tashie says they incorporated items from some of the other Malco grills and punched up the restaurant's menu with new items such as the wood-fired pizzas. The menu includes a hodgepodge of influences and genres — wontons and toasted ravioli, fried shrimp with firecracker sauce, and barbecue nachos. There are also salads and fish and chips. The pizzas are mostly classic — veggie, Hawaiian, pepperoni. Of course, you've gotta have a pork-barbecue pizza.
The space is meant to invoke a good atmosphere and good vibes, says Tashie. There are TVs around and a nice patio out front.
Malco partnered with the Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA), which owned the building, to get the Powerhouse built.
"None of this would be possible without MATA," say Karen Melton, Malco's VP and director of marketing.
Along the restaurant's front, there are the original windows (the glass was replaced). Bricks from the original building were repurposed. Along those eco-friendly lines, a new corn-based straw is being introduced and Malco will serve popcorn in recyclable bags.
Tashie says cinemas such as the Powerhouse are on trend, offering the latest amenities. But Malco wants to stay ahead of the trends.
"We want to be on the cutting edge," says Tashie, "for Memphis, for Malco."
With the high-quality sound, the large MXT (IMAX) screens, the pizza and the beer, Malco is aiming for a high-quality experience for its patrons.
One nice perk of the new theater is the in-seat delivery. (Some other Malcos offer this, too.) Patrons order from the concession stand and have their order delivered to their seat. This service ends 10 minutes after the movie starts.
Tashie says of the restaurant, "It's meant for everyone." Folks can just stop by for a cocktail or a quick dinner without ever buying a ticket. You can relax and hang out on the patio. But if you're so inclined to see the Marvel movie, the Powerhouse offers a "true dinner-and-movie experience," says Tashie.