Studio Movie Grill is a Dallas-based company that is known for re-claiming defunct movie theaters. The Tampa location, the first in Florida, is located at University Mall, near the University of South Florida. Once a bustling shopping mecca in Tampa, University Mall is lacking anchor stores and other tenants. Studio Movie Grill (SMG) hopes to change that. They are known to refurbish theaters with an upscale atmosphere and an affordable price. Movie tickets at SMG are always $1.50 less than at other local theaters. By drawing foot traffic to the theater they in turn draw people and eventually merchants back to the mall.
Our Opening Night Experience
We arrived earlier than expected, you can never figure out I-75 traffic! We arrived and were ushered inside the mall to the theater entrance. We checked in and then went to have our picture taken. They printed it right out and handed it to us as a souvenir. Next, we entered a nice lobby/bar area. We found seats on a sofa and enjoyed people-watching. The alcohol was flowing like water at this event. We don’t drink and we are actually anti-alcohol so this wasn’t a typical situation for us. Approximately every 60-90 seconds we were offered a drink. I’m not exaggerating. We watched the couple sitting on the sofa across from us as the woman downed 2 Long Island Iced Teas, 2 Blue Margaritas and at least 3 glasses of wine. She ordered water once but she never received it. A few times she refused a drink and said she had enough and the different waiters all had the same response, “You’ve got a 2 hour movie to sit through, you’ll be fine by the time you leave.” I found this statement a bit disconcerting as it seemed to be a company line.
Many employees, managers and higher ups in suits introduced themselves as we sat through the reception. We also witnessed the ribbon cutting, which was cute because they used a film reel.
We all finally entered the theater and chose our seats, we were in H8 and H9. The seats were comfortable with cup holders in the arms and a swing-out table top with a red button on it. We looked over the menu and waited for a server. The servers were making their way down the rows. The rows are wide so that the servers have room to work. Unfortunately, they aren’t wide enough. Several times it felt like there was someone sitting behind me kicking my seat, when I turned around I found out it was the server bumping my seat while they took care of the people in that row!
Our server finally came, since we were in the middle of the row, we were the last ones to have our order taken. All of the people to our right, who had a different server, had already received their drinks and appetizers before we ordered! Our server was very nervous and she was having trouble with her electronic ordering device. She took my husband’s order, excused herself for a few minutes came back and wrote his order on a napkin, excused herself again, took my order while complaining that her device was freezing and then left, never to be seen again. A few minutes later someone delivered our sodas to us. About 20 minutes later we asked another server to check on our order, since everyone near us had now finished their entree too. This server checked and said our food would be up in 1-2 minutes. TEN minutes later yet another server brought our food, appetizer and entrees all at the same time! I took a few food pictures just as the movie was beginning.
I ordered the BBQ Bacon Cheddar Chicken Sandwich. Unfortunately for me, the sandwich came with onion and shredded lettuce-which I don’t like. It was difficult to remove these from my sandwich in the dark. It was also difficult to cut my sandwich in half because, instead of serving it on a plate, it is served in a bowl. The sandwich was ok, but nothing great. My husband ordered the Steak ‘n Gravy sandwich and he enjoyed it. The potato skins were also very good.
About 2/3 of the way through the movie we pushed the “service” light on the table and ordered our dessert, the Ghiradelli Brownie Ice Cream Sundae. But, alas we never received our dessert. After the movie I went to the restroom where I ran into someone I know. She had an amazing time and an amazing server, we did not. I was stopped by another woman on my way out of the restroom and she said they never received their dessert either.
Mom Maven’s Thoughts
I understand that this was opening night and we were informed it was a training night BUT the service we received was horrible. If I had been a paying customer, I would have asked for my money back. The servers had no clue where the food belonged, they often walked up and down the row asking, “Did you order this?” The seat numbers are clearly marked and I would assume they are also on the order tickets. It isn’t rocket science.
That being said, I liked the concept and I have 2 more events at Studio Movie Grill in the next few weeks so I hope they continue to train their staff and that service improves.
We saw “St Vincent” starring Bill Murray. It was rated PG-13. We were both bored throughout the movie and not pleased with the language. Don’t waste your money on this movie. The story goes nowhere and then attempts a heartfelt ending.