Flix Brewhouse Arrives in Round Rock
Company adds "microbrewery" to in-theater dining concept
By Lee Nichols, 5:00PM, Fri. Jul. 1, 2011
The first major competition to Alamo Drafthouse – well, sort of – arrived in the Austin area this week with the debut of Flix Brewhouse. Is Round Rock ready for dinner and a movie?
If you haven’t yet heard, a group of investors is taking the in-theater dinner-and-drinks concept one step further than anyone else: “We’ll be the only cinema in the world that will have a working microbrewery,” boasted Allan Reagan, president of Hospitality Investors Inc., an Austin hotel and restaurant company that also owns Homefield Grill next door to the new theater in Sky Ridge Plaza (at the intersection of I-35 and Hesters Crossing Road). His company is partnering with Galaxy Theaters in the Flix venture.
The company is clearly serious on both the movie/dining experience and the beer: At a Wednesday media walk-through only hours before a “sneak peek” soft opening, Reagan showed off theaters more technologically advanced than Alamo’s, with dining tables that slide above the diner’s lap for an easier reach and a paperless electronic system of calling a server, as well as comfy high-back seats, impressive curved screens, and a powerful sound system. As for the beer: the brewery isn’t built yet, but the company has already hired brewer Justin Rizza away from Independence Brewing. When Rizza came to Independence in 2009, he took a brewery that was producing fairly average beers and took them into bolder territory, reworking their Stash IPA and developing their Saison, Rood, Kill Shot Scotch Ale, and Brewluminati recipes. (The same day as the walk-through, Independence announced that Rizza’s assistant, Michael Waters – who also spearheaded some innovative recipes – had been promoted to head brewer.)
Flix General Manager Walt Powell professed to being a beer geek and was excited about Rizza’s hiring. “His attitude toward beer is progressive,” Powell said. “We won’t have run-of-the-mill beer. We’ll start with a golden ale, and a resinous and hoppy IPA. The golden will have a touch of rye.” Both recipes were already entered in this year’s Great American Beer Festival, he said.
Lest Flix be seen as the corporate bully pushing in on Alamo’s turf, however, Reagan downplayed competition between the two companies. He noted that Alamo is not the only practitioner of the concept (although they’re probably the most famous to serious cinephiles), and said he studied the practices of several similar businesses, including DFW’s Movie Tavern and Studio Movie Grill chains.
Reagan also speculated that, in Round Rock, he may be reaching a different audience than some of the Alamo locations. “I know the exact same programming that works at Alamo South Lamar won’t work here,” he said, and then joked, “If it’s a bunch of goths showing up at the sneak peek, we’ll have to rethink that, but if it’s a bunch of suburbanites like we expect .”
Flix asked for patience from moviegoers this weekend, as the kitchen is not quite fully operational and the staff will still be learning and working out the theater’s kinks. Also, as said, the brewery is still being built, but with 48 taps already available, craft beer lovers won’t go wanting.
He also noted that people who just want a beer can drop in without having to see a movie – the theater’s lobby is outside the ticket-taking area, and serves as a semi-separate bar. Reagan said the theater enforces a strict adults-only policy. For more info and to purchase tickets, go to www.flixbrewhouse.com.