Ventless Revolution

Four Levels of Cinema Dining and How to Choose the Right One for your Business

Cinema dining is becoming more and more prevelant in theaters across the globe. As customers crave more experiential entertainment options, cinemas have no choice but to expand into the foodservice realm. If you’re not yet thinking about food service, or perhaps you’ve thought about it but aren’t sure where to start, this blog is for you. Today we’ll look at the four different levels of cinema dining and how to decide which level your business is best suited for. From minimal dining to a full scale restaurant, today we talk movie theater menus and everything in between.

CinemaDining2.pngLevel One: Counter Order / Patron Pickup

At the most basic level, movie theater dining can be as simple as an expanded concession stand. This first level of foodservice is perfect for cinemas that are space or budget conscious. Because this level also requires minimal capital to implement and potentially no additional staff to maintain, it’s the easiest level to enter.

If this sounds like the right level for you, start thinking about how you can add to your existing concession offerings. A ventless and fully automated fryer like AutoFry can assist you with taking your concessions up a notch! With just AutoFry, you’ll be able to add hot fried food items like French fries, onion rings, mozzarella sticks and chicken tenders. These are all really quick, made to order, items that can really ramp up what you are able to offer guests.


CinemaDining3.pngLevel Two: Counter Order / Seat Delivery

The next stage of foodservice requires a bit more coordination on the operation side of things. Counter order foodservice with in-theater delivery is perfect for reserved-seating auditoriums and theaters that are willing to invest some capital into making their foodservice venture a success.

If you can afford some investment into your food program, this level of foodservice is still minimalistic enough that your staff shouldn’t feel overwhelmed by new procedures. A couple things to keep in mind: only offer foods that can be eaten in the dark – things that require a fork and knife aren’t going to work. Also make sure that you can deliver the food within the first 30 minutes of any movie, you want to keep your interruptions to a minimum.


CinemaDining1.pngLevel Three: Seat Order / Seat Delivery – Single Serve

Very similar to our last level, this stage of foodservice requires a dedicated staff to take orders in-cinema, as people are finding their seats and waiting for the film to start. The key with this level of foodservice is that guests can order at the beginning of the show, but aren’t encouraged to keep ordering. In many cases, cinemas who operate in this level of foodservice have a much wider menu than cinemas in the last two categories. Make sure you have enough options to entice guests, but not so many that they cannot make a choice in a short amount of time.

Just like level two, you’ll want to make sure all food options are easy to eat. In the best case scenario, you’ll be able to upgrade some of your theaters to include table tops or clip on trays. This will make dining even easier for guests. Additionally, think about the ordering software you use. It might be helpful to offer ordering through staff or through a downloadable app that each guest can access on their phone.


CinemaDining4.pngLevel Four: Seat Order / Seat Delivery – Ongoing

This last level of foodservice is the most difficult to execute, but certainly offers the highest reward in terms of return on investment. Think of this level as a full scale dining experience. Your employees take orders throughout the movie and continue to serve guests until the movie is over. In many cases, there is full tabletop space offered for guests to have their food and drink on.

To execute this level of foodservice you need to be prepared for fast turnaround of service. Most of your orders will come in around the same time at the start of the film – you must be able to get them all out in timely fashion or face the wrath of hungry guests. We highly recommend a powerhouse fryer like our double basket AutoFry MTI-40E when looking to serve guests at the speed of sound!



These are the four basic levels of of cinema dining, but that doesn’t mean you can’t fall somewhere in between! We always recommend doing an analaysis of your current offerings as well as looking at what surrounding foodservice establishments are offering. This will give you a better idea of what your patrons want and need. Be sure to consider fully what equipment and staffing you’ll need to make your foodservice venture a success. As always, if there is any way we can assist you in determining what equipment is right for your plan, be sure to call us at 1-800-348-2976. Happy FRYday!

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