Theater’s alcohol plan comes into focus

Galaxy Theatres released additional information this week on its plans for alcohol sales in downtown Atascadero’s Colony Square.

Two VIP screens are now planned for its 10-screen theater to show movies, and, on occasion, sporting events and concerts, according to a letter the company sent to the city.

The Atascadero City Council on Tuesday voted to say Galaxy’s on-site sale of beer and wine would be a public convenience — a state requirement to obtain a liquor license through the department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. The application is still pending with the state, according to the agency’s website.

The theater, now under construction and expected to open by the holidays, would sell beer and wine in VIP screen areas reserved for moviegoers age 21 and older featuring plusher appointments and possible food sales.

The two VIP auditoriums will have access to a bar area where beer and wine will be sold, according to the letter to the city.

The bar area and special screens will be restricted to those age 21 and older when alcohol is being sold, the letter says, and all IDs will be checked.

Other details — such as how seating will be laid out or what foods will be available — have not been released.

The state requires local governing bodies to give their OK on state liquor license applications in areas of a town that have a concentration of them, officials said, which is the case in downtown Atascadero.

Colony Square, according to the city, is zoned as downtown commercial, which allows eating and drinking establishments.

The number of licenses that exist in the downtown wasn’t available on Friday.

City staff and the Atascadero Police Department determined that if the state issued Galaxy a liquor license, it wouldn’t negatively influence the rate of criminal activity in the neighborhood and that it would be compatible with the character of the downtown, according to city documents.

City staff also foresee a positive fiscal impact from increased sales tax revenue at the theater.

Company representatives have said Galaxy patrons will pay a surcharge per ticket at the box office to get into the VIP screens on a first-come, first-served basis for both individuals and private parties.

Atascadero’s surcharge prices have not been released yet, but VIP admission tickets in Galaxy’s Gig Harbor, Wash., theater range from $13 to $15 per person, according to Galaxy’s website. Its regular screens range from $7.75 to $10 for adults.

Officials have emphasized that every market is different, though, and that prices in one place may not reflect the prices in another.

What about Galaxy’s other concerns?

Atascadero and Galaxy Theatres were working on the liquor license circumstances months before Galaxy told city officials that its theater might not have a future in Atascadero if a competing 10-screen theater is granted a permit to build nearly across the street.

Galaxy representatives have said 20 movie screens are too many for Atascadero and could cause projects to fail.

Representatives for the other theater, La Plaza Cinemas, say the opposite and believe both theaters can be successful.

The City Council plans to vote on the matter at its June 8 meeting. Galaxy Theatres’ Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Frank Rimkus wasn’t available for comment Friday.