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GREENDALE - Marcus Theatres’ BistroPlex, “the restaurant that serves movies,” opens Friday, June 30, and promises an experiential dining and entertainment option for guests.

The 40,000-square-foot theater and restaurant in the northeast corner of Southridge Mall’s parking lot is the first all-dining venture of its kind for Marcus.

“The feature attraction here is the food. We want people to understand that this is a unique experience,” said Rob Novak, vice president of concessions with Marcus.

Different experience

With a full bar and restaurant serving the BistroPlex’s eight auditoriums, as well as a separate restaurant, the new venture is unique from other area Marcus locations, such as Marcus’ South Shore, Majestic and Ridge Cinemas, Novak said.

The front lobby doesn't have a concession stand and includes minimal staffing, with touch-screen kiosks for buying tickets. Posters feature both the latest films and unique menu offerings, such as a grilled cheese sandwich with fontina and blue cheese, bacon and currant jam.

Guests can order from the same menu in the restaurant area and the auditorium of their movie, and all food and drink can be carried from the restaurant into the auditoriums.

Movie-watchers can continue to order from their recliner seat during the show. However, guests can also enjoy the restaurant and bar without buying a movie ticket.

“You don’t have to buy a ticket to come in here. You can enjoy a sporting event,” Novak said.

While guests are asked to arrive 30 minutes before show time, Novak says there is no cut-off.

“We just encourage guests to get here early for the optimal experience for both you and those around you,” he said.

On the menu

Marcus’ team crafted a new menu for the BistroPlex venture, drawing heavily on local influences while including some diverse options.

“We're in a pretty diverse community,” said Marcus corporate chef Steve Johnson, who crafted much of the menu. “Our guests are really diverse, and we really wanted to build the menu towards that diversity.”

The menu includes 10 specialty burgers, such as the “Wisco Classic” with bratwurst, cheddar cheese, bacon and beer-grilled onions. But the menu also includes Asian offerings (like a banh mi sandwich), Hispanic items and comfort food, as well as healthier options like a chicken patty burger, salmon wrap and salads.

The bar features 20 taps of local craft beers, including offerings from Milwaukee Brewing Company, Lakefront Brewery, Wisconsin Brewing Company and Raised Grain Brewing, while still offering the classic Miller Lite, Leinenkugel and Spotted Cow.

With a double-line kitchen, Johnson said his team is ready to tackle serving the 850-seat theater by June 30.

“I want this food to rival any restaurant in the Milwaukee market,” Johnson said. “(People) might be thinking ‘food in a theater?’ and I want to turn that around and surprise everyone.”

Of course, the theater will still offer traditional concessions like popcorn and candy, available from wait staff.

Evolving entertainment

Along with the variety of breakfast items, appetizers, desserts and drinks offered at the BistroPlex, movie-goers can opt to buy tickets for the two “SuperScreen” auditoriums, which include a more immersive sound system and heated recliners.

The craft beers, cushy seating, minimalistic design and decor and convenient dining is all part of offering something new and experiential.

“I think the thing we've come to realize is, (with) Americans in general, society's on a time crunch,” Novak said. “This can serve the greater Milwaukee area with something different.”

For Southridge Mall General Manager Mary Mokwa, the BistroPlex is a sign of the evolving entertainment industry and will only add to the mall’s draw.

“It's just an excellent match for Southridge and the draw for our customers and the customer in the entire southeast Wisconsin,” Mokwa said.

The BistroPlex also added about 125 new jobs, with about 24 Marcus employees transferring from other locations.

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