August 16 2016

AMC Liquor License Approved After Some Debate

By: Rich Hosford

Visitors to the AMC Theater in Burlington will soon be able to enjoy their moving while sipping on a glass of beer, wine or cocktail. 


The Board of Selectmen approved an all-alcohol liquor license for the establishment after some discussion during the meeting Monday night. 


As reported on BNEWS, in January the board made changes to the alcohol bylaws to add “theaters and cinemas” into the bylaws, paving the way for the application that was before them this week. The license is one of two gained by the town through special legislation from the state that were designated for that area of town. The other license went to Buffalo Wild Wings. 


During that meeting AMC Senior Vice President of Food and Beverage George Patterson spoke about the reason the theater is looking to offer alcohol beverage service. He said the cinema industry has changed recently, and AMC along with it. Now they cater to an older clientele with amenities like larger, reclining chairs, upgraded food and reserve seating. He said that for 25 years the industry had lost the adult client but now people over 21 years of age make up 70 percent of moviegoers. He said AMC currently operates 146 locations that serve alcohol. 


The vote for approval in Burlington would have likely come sooner but for some debate over a couple of the conditions aimed at ensuring alcohol stays out of the hands of minors. 


The first was the details concerning an employee meant to keep an eye on all alcohol consumption. During the June meeting Patterson said the theater would have a dedicated “spotter” on shift while alcohol was being served. This employee, he said, would not be given any other duties and would only roam the theater looking for alcohol being passed to minors. 


In July attorneys for AMC argued the “spotter” should be allowed to have extra duties, especially when the theater is slow, such as helping customers find their seats. 


The board relented to that concession but held firm when the attorneys this week tried to push for more discretion in what the spotter could do besides monitoring alcohol consumption. One attorney said they weren’t happy with having an entire staff member dedicated to this task and floated the hypothetical of the employee having to ignore a customer who falls down in order not to break the rules. 


Selectman Bob Hogan, who is part of the alcohol subcommittee who worked out these conditions, said that was a frivolous argument. 


“I think it’s a silly argument that if someone falls down they are just going to stand there and watch them,” he said. “I don’t trust that a manager won’t have the employee bagging popcorn or doing something else when they are supposed to be monitoring the auditoriums.” 


He added that if they didn’t want to agree they could leave the meeting with nothing. 


“I’m not concerned that this is a slot you don’t want to create,” Hogan said. “If you don’t want to create it you can just go back to selling candy and popcorn without the alcohol.” 


There was also some pushback from AMC representatives to limit customers to two drinks per day. Members of the board, however, held firm and approved the license on the condition that all the rules be followed. 


A representative from AMC said construction of the bar will begin in October. 

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