Local Dining by BLAKE AUSTYN
1940s SODA FOUNTAIN: Visitors to the Broken Arrow Warren Theatre look at a menu at the Diner. The menu offers appetizers, salads, sandwiches, burgers, flatbread pizzas, desserts and a kids’ menu, with all food items and drinks able to be taken into the movie theater.
BLAKE AUSTYN for GTR Newspapers
As was expected, since opening in December, the Broken Arrow Warren Theatre, 1700 W. Aspen Creek Drive, is holding its own against its competition. This comes as no surprise, considering the movie-watching experiences and amenities offered there stand alone in quality and distinctiveness.
However, with so many movie-viewing options and amenities to choose from, Warren Theatre must work to combat customer confusion.
For instance, which theater rooms allow patrons to bring in meals to eat during the movie; which allow alcoholic beverages; which allow guests to order at their seat in the theater; and how does the Warren’s Diner fit into all of this?
These are all questions that I aimed to address when I visited recently.
I started out visiting the Diner, a 1940s-style soda fountain, located near the front doors. The menu is a condensed version of a more extensive menu that is offered at the theater’s second-floor restaurant and bar. No one under 21 years old is permitted upstairs to watch a movie or otherwise.
The Diner’s menu offers a large selection of appetizers, salads, sandwiches, burgers, flatbread pizzas, desserts and a kids’ menu, with nothing priced over $10.99. The menu is available to view online at warrentheater.com.
My party ordered the half-pound Choice Gourmet Cheeseburger with a side of fries. All sandwiches and burgers come with one side order. The burger was a good size with a flavorful patty, and the fries were the thick, traditional style, with a decent amount of crispiness.
For our other dish, we chose the Chicken Basil Pesto Flatbread, which featured a nicely prominent pesto flavor. The flatbread itself was a good size for sharing, with eight slices.
As a coleslaw lover, I opted to try a side of coleslaw just because I was curious.
Because this is a nostalgic ‘40s-style soda fountain, we had to try a vanilla milkshake, which did not disappoint. It even looked the part, being served in the traditional soda fountain glass with the extra portion of the shake served in the nostalgic steel milkshake cup. My mother, who is always on the hunt for old-time soda shops, was thrilled.
The Diner allows any food or drinks to be taken out of the Diner and into any of the movie theaters: the Balcony, Auditoriums, Screening Rooms and Director’s Suites. Since the movie theaters on the first floor do not offer food service at your seat, the Diner is a welcome option for food choices other than the traditional concession offerings.
When placing food orders at the diner counter, the waitress asks if guests would like to eat their meal in the Diner or if they want it packaged to be eaten in the movie theater. Boxes are also available if guests decide later to take a portion of their meal with them.
For guests watching a movie on the second floor, they have access to a full bar and the larger food menu, which includes entrée items between $10 and $20.
After my dinner in the Diner, I was pretty stuffed, but I still wanted something to munch during my movie. I opted for the Mozzarella Bites, which come with a side of marinara sauce (Is there any other way?). It’s hard to do mozzarella sticks wrong. The order comes with about 12 sticks, and, true to their name, they are just about bite-sized, maybe a smidge larger.
In the Balcony theaters, seats are roomy and plush with large armrests, a movable food tray, seat warmers, a call button to notify a server and a small flashlight for reading the menu after the movie has begun.
Guests are told before the movie begins when food and drink service will end. For me, it was about 20 minutes before the movie ended.
After the movie ends, upon leaving the theater, guests receive a parting mint from one of the theater’s smiling employees. Another special quality of Warren Theatre: the friendliness of the employees – not something often found today at movie theaters or elsewhere.
Clearly, Warren Theatre is successful for a reason. Anyone who has visited the theater understands why. For those who have yet to make the trip, even though it is, admittedly, not a cheap date, you surely won’t regret it.