Movie theaters with restaurant-style food service will reach a broader audience with the recent signing into law of a bill passed by the Washington State Legislature allowing service of food and alcoholic beverages to their patrons. The law as currently written allows some service of alcohol in movie theaters, but requires exclusion of minors from the premises. The new law will create a new, more family friendly, beer, wine and spirits license for theaters. The license will allow minors if certain conditions are met and approved by the Washington State Liquor Control Board, such as submission of an alcohol control plan outlining the methods to prevent minors from obtaining alcohol, similar to plans that are required for clubs and show venues that host all-ages concerts. Theaters will also be required to meet food and service requirements, similar to restaurants, to qualify for the license. (Senate Bill 5607 as Passed by Legislature)

When the new license goes into effect this summer, not only will it provide an opportunity for luxury theaters to expand their market in the competitive entertainment industry—as more families and groups combine dinner with watching first release films—but it has the potential to create new outlets for Washington’s craft breweries, wineries and distilleries that are likely to promote their products and services to venues that offer up-scale in-theater dining options.