When you head to the lobby to treat yourself to the classic movie theater in Elk Grove Village, there will soon be beer and booze alongside popcorn and candy bars.
The 10-screen Elk Grove Theater, located in downtown Elk Grove, will sell canned alcoholic beverages at its booth starting this summer, said Willis Johnson, founder of Classic.
His son, CEO Chris Johnson, successfully lobbied Mayor Craig Johnson and village officials to create a new type of local liquor license – appropriately named Class MT, for movie theaters.
Alcoholic beverages are an increasingly common menu item at suburban theaters, and Classic sells them at seven of its 15 locations.
Before the village council added the new licensing classification to the municipal liquor code last week, the mayor of Elk Grove visited Classic’s famous York Theater in Elmhurst to see how drinks are served there.
“I was a little on the fence at first,” said Johnson, who is not related to the theater owners. “I hadn’t realized how many theaters had done that.”
In York, only canned liquor is served at the concession stand, while Classic’s rental venue, the Tivoli Theater in Downers Grove, offers cocktails in a full bar.
For now, Elk Grove will be like York, the theater owners said.
According to village rules, only alcoholic beverages in containers of 12 ounces or less can be sold. And only one drink per person per trip to the concession stand is allowed, but the mayor has indicated the rule could be relaxed after Labor Day if all goes well this summer.
Bartenders must be at least 21 years old and certified under the Education and Training Program for Alcoholic Beverage Vendors and Servers.
Classic Cinemas still needs to formally apply for the $1,000 village license, as well as a state liquor license, and then find staff who can sell liquor since most employees are high school students, Willis said. Johnson.