On Long Island, there’s more to our theaters than just the main stage. Many are expanding their scope to include a space where food and drinks are served before the show. Some even offer a second stage with separate entertainment.
The latest addition is the Loading Dock, a speak-easy with an industrial cabaret feel set behind the Patchogue Theatre.
“We are not a club. We are a performance venue. Once the show is over, we close down,” says director Gary Hygom. “The goal is create something for new and emerging artists in every capacity — comedy, music, theatrical readings and poetry.”
The new venue, which serves beer, wine and soda, is open only two Thursdays a month, when the theater is dark, and attendees must go on Facebook to register.
Meanwhile, in Babylon, an old movie house is being transformed into the Argyle Theatre, set to debut next month. The theater will have two lounge areas where 25 to 50 patrons can gather before the show and during intermission for beer, wine and soda, plus traditional concessions like candy, nachos, bite-size pretzels and hot dogs.
“It’s going to have the feeling of an old-fashioned Broadway theater,” says co-owner Mark Perlman. “The lounges will be used for smaller entertainment like a jazz trio, acoustic guitar, magicians and book signings on non-show nights.”
PRESHOW PIT STOPS
Dining before a show can be tricky because there’s always an urgency to rush through the meal to get to the theater. At NYCB Theatre at Westbury’s Lounge 960, dinner and drinks can be enjoyed at this 150-seat venue with a menu featuring tapas, small plates, salads, panini and burgers.
“Everything is made fresh, and our on-site chef sources his produce locally,” says general manager Kate Walsh.
Sometimes there’s preshow entertainment, and the area can be used during the performance (see what’s happening onstage via flat-screen TVs). In addition, Lounge 960 stays open hour after each show.
The YMCA Boulton Center in Bay Shore recently completed a $50,000 renovation to its lobby-bar area. Open 90 minutes before each show, it serves beer, wine, soda and snacks while local musicians play.
“We don’t typically have a lot of opening acts,” says director Michele Rizzo-Berg. “This is a great way for us to be supportive of our local artists.”
At Theatre Three in Port Jefferson, guests can hit Griswold’s Cabaret before the show and during intermission.
“It’s kind of like a New York nightclub with antique lights and a black and burgundy theme,” says concession manager Carol D’Accordo. The bar serves wine, beer, soda, coffee and tea, plus cookies, poundcake, candy and chips.
The cabaret, which holds up to 100, also has its own programing, ranging from comedy to original one-act plays on nights the main stage is closed.
When The Space at Westbury opened in the fall of 2013, the venue had some extra square footage in the front of the theater to play with. “We decided to make it a very comfortable room that wasn’t your typical bar or theater setup,” says general manager Jeff Siegel.
Enter The Lounge, a 1930s art deco-themed room for up to 100 people, offering a full bar with couches and lounge chairs opening two hours before showtime. On Thursday, it features its own lineup of live music. Food isn’t currently served.
Other theaters have different options to accompany their live entertainment.
The Paramount in Huntington offers VIP members special pre- and post-show access to an expansive Founder’s Room with waiter service for appetizers and cocktails.
In Riverhead, the Suffolk Theater provides a dining experience with each show. Guests are seated at a table 90 minutes before the show for a three-course meal.
UPCOMING SHOWSGRISWOLD’S CABARET
March 23: “Friday Night Face Off” improv sketch comedy at 10:30 p.m.
INFO $15, 631-928-9100, theatrethree.com
THE LOADING DOCK
April 12: Comedy night featuring Gary Vider (“America’s Got Talent,” “Conan”) and Greg Stone (“America’s Got Talent,” Gotham Comedy Live) at 8 p.m.
INFO $20, facebook.com/loadingdockpatchogue
April 12: Nancy Atlas at 7 p.m.
INFO $10, 516-283-5566, thespaceatwestbury.com