NITEHAWK CINEMA’S WINNING DINNER, DRINKS, AND A MOVIE CONCEPT FINDS A SECOND AND MUCH LARGER VENUE ON PROSPECT PARK WEST
BY EVAN MONROE
Opened in 2011 on Metropolitan Avenue in Williamsburg, Nitehawk Cinema was initially not permitted to serve liquor because of a decades old blue law banning movie houses from offering spirits, but founder Matthew Viragh actually hired a lobbyist to change the legislation, and the theater began serving in October of that year. Then the only movie venue in the city to offer alcohol, it became the spear tip of a concept that has grown to include Cinépolis USA in Chelsea, IPIC Fulton Market in lower Manhattan, and Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Downtown Brooklyn, among others. Combining the quintessential dinner and movie night into a singular experience seemed a winning idea from the first, though Nitehawk also put a boutique cinema take on things. First run independent and main stream films are given nearly equal weight, and there are special nights and mini festivals galore, spiced by what one staffer described as a “concessions meets chiffonade” menu, along with a full bar and a list of handcrafted tap beers.
Once a patron chooses a seat for a screening, he or she is welcome to order off the menu. Each seat sports a piece of paper and pencil, and patrons can order throughout a film by placing slips into staff monitored slots at the end of serving tables. Checks are dropped 30 minutes before the credits roll, so there’s no risk of them interfering with the denouement.
And now, park proximate moviegoers have a gratifying option that will keep them off the G train. Nitehawk Prospect Park, opened in December on Bartel Pritchard Square, features seven theaters (48 to 194 seats) and two bars housed in the historic and recently gut reno’d Pavilion Theater (originally the Marathon Theater). Built in 1908, it is one of the oldest movie venues in the city.
Executive Chef Blessing Schuman Strange’s menu New American with some Southern and International twists will change four times per year, yet maintain an emphasis on eclectic local flavors and seasonal ingredients. Some mainstays include the Nitehawk Burger, Homemade Beef Jerky, and Nitehawk Popcorn with truffle butter and citric salt.
The new cinema’s second floor, formerly known as the Living Room, hosts a full bar, a curated “VHS Vault,” and views of Prospect Park. Select seating placements have ’80s/’90s era video game cocktail tables, too. More than three times larger than the Williamsburg location, Nitehawk Prospect Park is a fascinating combination of preservation and adaptation. An original balcony, uncovered during construction, has been restored and left exposed, along with much of the original plasterwork, and the original marble stairs on the first riser and to the entrance landing have been rehabilitated by Paterson, NJ based Wilkstone, LLC (the marble was found to be the same as that used in Grand Central Station). New installations include two elevators to service all floors, windows in the left stairwell for additional light, and the Nitehawk logo, in brass, built into the entrance floor.
Nitehawk Prospect Park
188 Prospect West / nitehawkcinema.com/prospectpark