When Cineplex opens The Rec Room at the Avalon Mall in the first quarter of 2019, patrons will be treated to an entertainment experience unlike anything they’ve experienced before in Newfoundland and Labrador.
But as much as the Cineplex brand is synonymous with entertainment and the 30,000-square foot venue — slightly smaller than a traditional movie theatre — will feature everything from shuffle board to video games to virtual reality, the focus is very much on food.
“Traditionally, when you think of these types of venues you think about the fun and the games, and not necessarily as a destination for food. It’s very secondary,” says Sarah Van Lange, Cineplex’ director of communications.
“But at The Rec Room it's definitely food first.”
Read the earlier story here
Visitors will have choice between the Three10, more of an upscale casual dining environment, and The Shed, more casual pub fare. Canadian-inspired menus will be similar to those at existing Rec Rooms in other parts of Canada, but are sure to include custom donut bars and wood-fired pizza.
And, like the other locations, The Rec Room will be all ages until a certain time at night, after which it will have more of a bar feel.
Van Lang says details around the time the venue switches over to 19-plus will be determined as they finalize details in the months ahead.
They’re also going to finalize some of the more prominent entertainment options in what they call The Yard. A press release issued on Wednesday suggested it could include virtual reality, luxury bowling and axe throwing.
Van Lange says VR is a definite and while the current design plan calls for a 10-pin bowling and axe-throwing component, neither are set in stone just yet.
“But we also wanted to make sure we have a bit of leeway should something spark our interest in a year’s time that we think would perform better,” she says.
The rest of the yard will feature more than 90 amusement games that use RFID (radio frequency identification) wristbands technology that uses use electromagnetic fields to transfer data and track information.
“I think about when I was a kid running in this kind of environment and I had that bucket with the tokens in it and you have your tickets spilling out over,” explains Van Lange. “The RFID wrist band is kind of both of those in one.”
Moreover, existing Scene club members will be able to redeem and earn rewards points at the Rec Room.
The Rec Room will also offer a small performance stage for bands, musical acts, comedy shows.
“The location in Toronto has a pretty epic Trivia night and they also have live band karaoke that runs every couple of weeks,” says Van Lange. “In terms of a destination and new performance space for the city, the Rec Room will also be that.”
The Rec Room, Van Lang says, is an amalgamation of a number of Cineplex’s lines of business that most people aren’t aware of. The company is one of North America’s largest operators and distributors of amusement games, has a business-to-business digital signage solutions division, and is one of Canada’s largest food service operators.
The Avalon Mall location is one of three planned to open within the next year, adding to the existing four. The plan is to open between 10 and 15 locations across Canada.
So why St. John’s as its first destination in Atlantic Canada and not Halifax?
“We operate two really successful theatres there and then also the opportunity real estate-wise came up with a partner that we greatly value and work really well with,” she says of mall management firm Crombie REIT.
“We're really excited about opening this new location and we're confident that it's going to really resonate well with the community.”
Adds Crombie REIT senior leasing and regional property manager Marcel Elliot, “Avalon Mall is more than just shopping so we are excited any time when we can further enhance one’s experience here through other entertainment.
“We already have a great relationship with Cineplex so the fact that they chose St. John’s as the first location in Atlantic Canada shows that they have a strong belief in their Newfoundland customers, market area and our shopping centre.”
The Rec Room will be located on the second floor of the mall, adjacent to the current theatres in the former homes of the Starcade and Glow in One Mini Golf, both of which will be expanded over the stores and common area by Scotiabank on the first floor.