Add power recliners and an in-movie iPad food ordering system to the list of local movie theater amenities.
iPic, the Boca Raton-based movie theater chain, will open its eight-screen Pike & Rose location on Friday.
The recliners and in-movie food and drink service are the latest perks from a new batch of local theaters seeking to brand themselves as the standard in luxury moviegoing.
Just two weeks ago, Los Angeles-based ArcLight Cinemas opened its 16-screen theater at Westfield Montgomery mall, complete with widescreens and the latest in surround sound technology.
Perhaps sensing the coming competition, Landmark Theatres closed its Bethesda Row Cinema for a month last year for a complete overhaul of the facility’s interior, setting up cozier seating, a new gourmet food and cocktail menu and a reserved seating system in the process.
Reserved seating is also a staple of iPic’s brand. The Pike & Rose location (11580 Old Georgetown Rd.) is the company’s eleventh and its biggest.
It’s located at what’s now the end of Grand Park Avenue in the middle of Federal Realty’s redevelopment of the former Mid-Pike Plaza shopping center. A staircase and escalator takes customers up to the lobby, where there is also an entrance to City Perch, the full-service restaurant with a separate kitchen.
The eight auditoriums range from 84 to 104 seats and each is divided into premium seats up front and multiple tiers of premium plus seats — the orange recliners that move with the push of a button.
Each of the premium plus seats (they cost $22 each on the weekend and $17 during the week with a free membership) includes a small pillow and blanket a la first class seating on an airplane. The seats are positioned in groups of two and angled so iPic’s “ninja servers” won’t block the screen while delivering food and drink orders during a movie.
The popcorn comes free, at least in the premium plus seats. Those who buy the premium seats (which range from $11 to $13 a ticket) can bring food and drinks into the theater.
The “dining in the dark” menu at a media preview on Thursday included biscuits, empanadas, fish tacos, two types of pizzas, an angus burger, lobster roll and chocolate s’mores cake.
In March, iPic announced it hired celebrated Los Angeles pastry chef Sherry Yard to oversee its restaurant operations. Adam Seger, iPic’s mixologist, will be in charge of the drink menu.
Both spoke on Thursday about the theater’s focus on locally sourcing its menu. Yard said she spent three days at a bakery in Landover tinkering with dough for pretzels, pizza, hamburger buns and the lobster rolls.
Seger said the theater will rely on apple cider from a Pennsylvania farm that appears weekly at the Pike Central Farm Market just around the corner. The theater’s rose wines are sourced from a vineyard on the Eastern Shore.
The Pike & Rose location, which iPic has classified as North Bethesda, is the company’s first on the East Coast. It hopes to open 12 more around the country.
City Perch is set to open on Nov. 17. The theaters are located in the “crown jewel” building of the first phase of the Pike & Rose project. A 30,000-square-foot Sport&Health club will occupy parts of the second and third floors and AMP, the 250-seat music venue operated by Strathmore, will open in an adjacent space.
Del Frisco’s Grille, at the corner of Grand Park Avenue and Old Georgetown Road, was the first business to open in the building and in the Pike & Rose project when it opened last month.