Studio Movie Grill opening boosts Upper Darby's economy

UPPER DARBY, Pa. (WPVI) -- Dinner, drinks, and a movie without ever leaving your seat. The brand new Studio Movie Grill is opening right near the 69th Street terminal in Upper Darby for what they call a one-stop, family entertainment shop.

With nine screens and roughly 900 seats, this weekend it's curtains up for Studio Movie Grill's 21st location.

Company CFO Ted Croft says, "Eat, drink, and movies - what else is there!"

The chain touts itself at the pioneer of dine-in cinemas, and we got a sneak peek as they put the finishing touches on their first location in the Northeast.

Croft tells us, "Philly was a target for us for quite some time."

Upper Darby is a township in transition. The heart of this area has long been 69th Street and the shopping district.

"It was the energy of the community, it was also the backbone for finances, for employment and taxes," said Mayor Tom Micozzie.

But the district declined rapidly in the 1980s and 1990s when big shopping malls pulled the people and the money away. Now that's all changing.

An integral part of the 69th Street revitalization project, Studio Movie Grill is bringing roughly 250 new jobs to Upper Darby and more than 5,000 local people applied to be a part of the team.

"When you take that and look around the area, our job growth has grown in Upper Darby, we're positive unemployment is down from where it was in 2009," said Mayor Micozzie.

Moviegoers will be able to lounge in Studio Movie Grill's roomy leather seats, which can be reserved ahead of time, and order away.

"You go online and reserve your seat so you're not stressed about getting to the movie and rushing, ending up in the front row," said Brian Schultz, CEO.

Along with the cocktail offerings there are more than 100 food items on the menu.

Beyond popcorn and movie snacks, the kitchen runs like a regular restaurant - and everything is made from scratch.

Chef Thad Kelley says, "Long gone are the days of the concession stand. We have a lot of farm to table fresh produce."

And about the servers...

"Is it intrusive during the movie? You don't even notice our staff... They are quiet, they duck, they whisper," Croft said.

And you don't have to see a movie to dine at the Studio Movie Grill or grab a drink at the bar. They also have a pool table and TV screens for people coming for a night out.
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