OAKLAND -- It was a Saturday night, and the line for tickets to the crime drama "Killing Them Softly" was short at the New Parkway. The line for food was not.
Customers stood and stood and stood waiting to order Zero Beef Burgers, Sassy Sausages, Saucy Fries, Adventurous Pizzas and other upgraded staples the original Parkway had offered before shutting down in a cloud of frustration and disappointment in 2009.
The long line would be indicator No. 1 the cinema is, as the saying goes, working out the kinks less than two weeks after opening night.
But a 10-minute wait on food didn't seem like so long after waiting three years to see the revival, albeit in a new location, on 24th Street between Telegraph
In November, the New Parkway was nothing but cement floors and plywood planks.
No way could they pull it off by the end of 2012, I predicted. But they -- New Parkway Entertainment and 56 investors -- did.
At the New Parkway, wine comes in three varieties: white, red and syrah. The former two cost $5, the third $6. I chose syrah and settled into a small black love seat dead center facing the screen in one of two cavernous screening rooms. It was dotted with strategically placed chairs, sofas and coffee tables in hues of blue, green and orange reminiscent of a grandmother's living room circa 1972 -- if grandma had kept around the old 1954 TV console.
Red vinyl and sofa
A box of tissues in a pink frilly cover accentuated the pink dial telephone set just so on one of those coffee tables euphemistically called retro (or "midcentury" if merchants are trying to get more money for the furniture).
The New Parkway covers a total of 8,000 square feet, so I kept thinking owner J. Moses Ceaser must have emptied the inventory of every vintage shop, flea market and thrift store in the Bay Area to decorate.
Despite the eclectic decor, there is something more professional and corporate about the operation, which will drive some people crazy. Most won't really care, content with $6 tickets, plus eating, drinking and lounging during a movie.
The quirky Thrillville flicks will continue along with classics as well as second-run films, like the one I was watching. There is a LGBT movie night and a documentary theme night, currently featuring a locally minded urban issues series, "Brooklyn Reconstructed," organized by a trio including Oakland's Top Ten Social.
Also, now the under-21 set is welcome, and not just infants with their parents during the
A silver triangular contraption like a metronome sits next to each sofa or cluster of chairs. Need a beer refill or nachos? Just push the button on the base.
Instead of an on-screen introduction before the film (as was the old custom), a woman stepped in front of the audience still assembling themselves, some already digging into their orders and sipping beers.
Ceaser perched on a settee at the edge of the room, looking gaunter than usual but smiling like a father who looks out at the room and sees his family reunited at home for the first time in years.
He left as the room darkened, and the face of Scoot McNairy filled the screen. The actor plays one of three
Waiters continued to circulate through the room, trying to deliver orders in the dark to the right customer by the time Brad Pitt appeared on screen more than a quarter into the movie as an "enforcer" hired to restore order after the stickup.
Once the Parkway gets the food ordering line tightened up, late arrivals should cease to be a problem, although the experience caused me to concede to my boyfriend's prediction that the call buttons might not turn out to be the best idea.
A woman in the crescent-shaped booth next to me had ordered a glass of House Sangria with her Pile O' Nachos and began chomping while hired thugs beat Ray Liotta's character to a pulp.
I put my boots up on the stand in front of me and tried to focus on the comfort of the sofa, the fact that there was no risk of someone tall sitting in front of me while I watched James Gandolfini as a debauched hit man.
Afterward we went to Kim's Backyard. But that's a story for the next Night Owl.