This is what I wore for a date night on Saturday, remixing my Isabel Marant scarf. OK. That’s that.
The rest of this very long post is a detailed and scathing review of where I went on said date night: Studio Movie Grill at College Park in Indianapolis. It’s a chain of movie theaters that has a full menu and bar, and you order a meal to eat during the movie, and one just opened here in Indy in October. This was my third (and probably last) visit to SMG. If you live in Indy, this is definitely worth a read – you’ve been warned!
Even if you don’t live in Indy, you’ll probably find my horror story pretty entertaining. Enjoy 🙂
Visit #1: Hey, That Wasn’t So Bad
My first time at SMG was shortly after it opened. Thanks to my being a blogger, which apparently makes me a member of the press (?), I was invited to the VIP opening party. Free booze, free food, free movie? Sign me up! The night didn’t start off strong, but it wasn’t a deal breaker, ladies. My lovely date and I went to the bar and ordered cosmopolitans. Well, perhaps a better description would be: First I stood at the bar for a solid five minutes – quite conspicuously – before anyone acknowledged me. I was starting to worry I was in a Sixth Sense situation where I had died but didn’t know I was a ghost. I was in fact alive and visible. Then I ordered our 2 cosmos from a bartender who wasn’t really a bartender because he didn’t know how to make a cosmo (also not a SATC fan apparently). He kept pouring beers and other easy drinks for other customers before finally disappearing to ask someone else to make our drinks. When he finally came back, he handed me ONE cosmo. This guy was literally half-assing it. Kristin had to track down the cosmo maker to get hers. 15 minutes later, we had our drinks and enjoyed them, along with some tasty appetizers, and took a spin in the photo booth. The rest of the pre-movie time was lovely.
We went to see Gravity (side note: great movie, but SO stressful to watch). They took our dinner orders before the movie, and I ordered the (very healthy) loaded cheese fries, but asked for no bacon because I’m a vegetarian. The food came after the lights had gone down, so I couldn’t actually see it, but at the end of the movie I discovered I had been eating little bits of bacon all night. Luckily I’m not allergic and not one of those overly zealous vegetarians who freaks out if my food even touches meat, but still…I don’t enjoy the idea of eating Babe. That’ll NOT do, pig.
Visit #2: Hmm…It’s Always Something, Isn’t It?
Shortly after the VIP party, I got another invitation to a pre-screening of About Time. Even though Visit #1 to SMG didn’t go perfectly, it’s hard to complain when it’s a free party. The movie sounded good, so I figured why not?
I decided to save myself the risk and ordered something that didn’t come with meat to begin with, and I survived unscathed! But this time it was Kristin’s order that was wrong – regular fries instead of sweet potato. They corrected it, but not very quickly.
This time the movie tickets were free but we did have to pay for our meals. So our server brought the check, I gave her my card, and she brought it back. It’s just like any restaurant, but the thing is…all of this is going down in the dark while you’re trying to watch a movie. I needed to write in the tip and sign the receipt, but I couldn’t see! I figured I would just wait until the lights went back up. But our server came back around to collect the receipts while the movie was still going. I tried to whisper to her “it’s not signed yet” but she couldn’t hear me. I tried using some made-up sign language. She still wouldn’t move the hell out of the way (again – remember we’re trying to watch a movie). I literally had to grab the little black envelope out of her hand and clutch it to my chest. In hindsight, I should have just let her take it! It would have been her own fault she didn’t get a tip.
Again, not a horrible experience but still not great.
Visit #3: THAT’S IT. NEVER AGAIN.
This brings us to Saturday. So back at the VIP party, we were all given free movie passes that expired on Nov. 17. As procrastinators, we waited until Nov. 16. We went to see Carrie, and we were there early so I got a drink at the bar. Unfortunately, the experience was pretty similar to the VIP party – the bar wasn’t that busy and yet I was ignored by both bartenders for quite a while.
By the time I got my margarita, the screens in the lobby indicated our theater was seating, so we went up to the ticket taker only to find out that our theater was NOT seating. Just to clarify: “seating” is the opposite of “not seating.” So we stood around for several minutes holding our very cold glasses. Brrr.
As we were standing there waiting, Kristin and I commented (I wouldn’t call it complaining…yet) that we would probably switch back to our old theater after this time. It was nice having the free tickets, and the whole idea of a dinner/movie combined is cool, but with all the little problems we had had each time, it just didn’t seem worth coming back if we had to shell out $40 for the night.
And then…It’s like the theater gods heard us and said, “Oh, you think you might not come back? WE’LL MAKE SURE YOU DON’T.”
We sat down, ordered our food, and the previews started. Everyone started realizing there was something wrong with the sound because we could hear music and background noise, but no words came out of anyone’s mouth. Various people (including Kristin) said something to servers as they came by, but one of them just blew it off, saying “I don’t know; I just bring out the food.” Add “go get ’em attitude” to that kid’s resume.
Eventually someone started working on the issue. The screen went black for a few minutes, then came back on, froze a couple times, restarted a couple times…I guess their system runs off a 10-year-old PC full of illegally downloaded songs. All the while, everyone else seemed to have gotten their food except us. Then a manager informed us there was a blown amp, and they were waiting to hear back from tech support. He said they would hopefully know WITHIN 20 MINUTES whether they would be able to show the movie. In the meantime, everyone enjoy your food!
Oh, that food we don’t have yet? Right. All this on top of our already less-than-stellar impression of Studio Movie Grill was just the last straw. We got up and left. We saw our server (who was super nice, by the way) in the hallway, and decided to tell her to cancel our dinner just so the kitchen didn’t waste its food. That’s when a couple managers overheard, asked why we were leaving, and we explained this was our third time having issues. They apologized and offered to refund our tickets, but I told him they were free passes anyway.
We started to leave, then Kristin remembered that I had paid $9 for a margarita (a price only appropriate in NYC) that I never finished because I was saving it to drink with dinner. We went back to the manager and asked if he could refund the drink. This seems perfectly reasonable, right? A manager always wants to find a way to make it up to an unhappy customer, and this was really the only way they could do it. Do you know what he said? “We already comped your meal.”
ARE. YOU. EFFING. KIDDING. ME. Something can’t be comped unless it was received. We didn’t receive any meal so you didn’t do us a favor. Then he asked, “Well if we reimburse you for the drink, do you promise to give us another try?” That’s when Kristin turned into a badass and said, “Well if you don’t reimburse her, I can promise we won’t.” I was so proud.
They did end up giving me cash back for my drink. Does that mean we’ll give SMG another shot? Not for at least 6 months. This place clearly hasn’t found it’s groove yet and I have exactly zero patience left for being part of the experimental phase. The fact that there are Studio Movie Grills all over the country gives me hope that the business model works, but it’s definitely NOT working in Indianapolis yet.
Ladies and gents of Indy, be advised: Studio Movie Grill at College Park does NOT get the coveted SASS (Sarah’s Awesome Stamp of Satisfaction), but they do deserve the (lowercase) sass I’m giving them in this review.
*Scarf provided courtesy of H&M; shoes and bag provided courtesy of Asos. Clearly, this post was in no way sponsored by Studio Movie Grill.