A full bar in available at the Grove Theater, Bistro & Entertainment for a pre-movie drink.

The Grove Theater, Bistro & Entertainment will have a spin room, children’s room, acting studio, a comedy club and more, but on Feb. 19, it finally opened to do what it was built to do:

Show movies.

After more than a year of renovations and redesign, the theater debuted its new reclining leather seats and bistro with a showing of movies like “Judas and the Black Messiah”, “Land” and “The Little Things.”

The former Cobb Theater was operating at limited capacity, with only 50 percent seating in checkerboard style, and no one sitting in front of, behind or next to other customers. Only some of the 12 screens were in use, and some of the showings were sold out.

The selection of movies also is limited, as Hollywood has held back on production and releases due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Bistro dining area, which The Grove Theater management refers to as “upscale,” was busy on the weekend nights, with a wide menu of dishes, featuring items like steak, shrimp macaroni and cheese, fish tacos and bruschetta, with crème brulee highlighting its desert options. The chicken parmesan was the most popular menu item, and all could be ordered at Bistro tables, as well as for in-movie dining.

Laron, Angel and English Hearst (eating the burger) of New Tampa enjoying a meal at the Grove Bistro.

A full bar serving drinks, as well as a sushi bar, are also part of the Bistro, and the main lobby has 45 video arcade games for pre-movie entertainment.

“People are ready to go back to the movies and we are proud to be able to provide them with a safe environment to enjoy a night out with their friends and family,” said Matheus Gold, vice president of operations. “We are operating at 50% capacity with checkerboard seating and sold out several showings our opening weekend. Our Bistro offers new dishes and the feedback we received is that we are back better than ever.” 

The theater is taking lots of Covid-19 safety precautions, with temperature checks at the door and facial coverings required inside. However, with the limited seating, social distancing was easily manageable.

The two-floor, 85,000-sq.-ft. movie theater is being dubbed by developer Mark Gold as the future of how entertainment will be offered to attract families. His plans are for families to come for dinner, leave the kids in a converted-theater Kids Play Place room, and see a movie or comedy show at Side Splitters Comedy Club (which is expected to open this spring).

Then, families can then spend time together cruising the 200-acre complex, which will have a mini-golf course, the much anticipated KRATE by Gold Box container park and a “downtown village” area, all featuring other bars, restaurants and retailers. 

The theater renovations are another part of a massive project at The Grove, which Gold’s Mishorin Gold Properties purchased in September 2019 for $62.7 million. 

The Grove Theater, Bistro and Entertainment will be open Saturday and Sunday from 4-9:30 p.m., and Sundays noon-7 p.m. Tickets can be reserved at grovetheater.com.

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