The movies from a different view: The Brew and View

The DePaulia Online  (Originally posted on Depaulia Online on 3/19/12)

By Sean McDonough

Crowded theaters, tickets costing more than $10, and unreasonably priced popcorn and beverages are just a few reasons to give movie-goers pause when planning a night in front of the big screen. But if you’re still trying to have a fun evening at the movies and don’t mind being carded to see “The Muppets” or seeing a movie a few weeks after its premier, then the Brew and View could be the place for you.

You might question whether you have even heard of the Brew and View (3145 N. Sheffield at Sheffield and Belmont), but think again, especially if you have ever seen a concert at the Vic Theatre. That’s because the Brew and View and the Vic are one in the same – well, sort of. The Brew and View, characterized as “the Vic’s alter ego” operates mostly during weekday evenings and on Sundays when the Vic isn’t hosting a concert or comedy team.

Instead of a band, the stage is occupied by a giant movie screen. And in place of hundreds of screaming, dancing, raving, rolling concert-goers are circular, high-top café tables with accompanying chairs lining the theater floor. And really, that’s the only difference between the Vic and the Brew and View. There aren’t any decorations aimed to disguise the classical-looking venue’s red and gold-plated walls and balconies – it’s just a concert hall cleverly doubling as a movie theater.

The Vic Theater

The Vic doubles as the Brew and View during most weekday evenings. Picture by Sean McDonough

The Brew and View has familiar features to traditional movie theaters: the unmistakable aroma of buttery popcorn greeting patrons as they enter the theater; the sound of candy boxes being torn open; customers slurping soda cups, mixed with the dark, ominous setting are all reminders that you really are at the movies.

But what makes the Brew and View different is also what makes it so popular. Rather than paying $12.50 for a ticket at a conventional theater, the Brew and View charges just $5 for double and triple features (the crowd typically becomes more animated toward the second and third shows). And if you prefer a frosty-cold beer in place of a Coca-Cola or ICEE, well then you’re in luck because the Brew and View’s deal-breaking feature is its full bar, offering drink specials like $3 drafts as if the owners empathize with the pain our wallets feel when forced into shelling out $6 for a medium fountain drink at traditional theaters.

Moreover, the Brew and View turns dinner and a movie into dinner with a movie by providing guests menus from local restaurants where they can call in a take-out order and have it delivered right to the theater.

Consider the Brew and View a movie theatre for the college-aged and recent college graduates. If you’re still worrying about getting into R-rated movies, well forget about the Brew and View because proper 21-and-over identification is required at the door due to alcohol being served. The movies shown are typically recently-released ones or older comedy classics. For example, “The Muppets,” “Young Adult,” and “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” comprised the triple-feature the week of March 9-15.

Jim O’Connell, a University of Illinois alumni and Lakeview resident, visited the Brew and View with a group of friends after getting tickets on Groupon.

“I absolutely enjoyed the experience. It goes in line with what I like about Clark Street, Belmont, and Broadway — that whole area has quirky, independent shops that make for a unique experience. It’s a great neighborhood asset, great for a cheap date, and a great place to relax with friends if there’s nothing really going on,” he said.

So if you don’t want to break the bank on an expensive date-night, head to the Brew and View for a cheap flick, a cold beer, and even a Domino’s Pizza in 30 minutes or less.