Poor food service ruins the Cinépolis movie theater experience

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Ailee Lim

The hall leading into the theater has an unique style compared to other theaters.

The Hillsdale mall is currently adding new restaurants, an outside area, and a bowling alley. The Cinépolis movie theater, which was only recently integrated, sets itself apart from other theaters with its design and service.

Before I attended the theater, I bought two tickets for “A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood” online. The ticket was only $11;  compared to the Century Redwood City’s Downtown theater at $11.75 and Century 12 San Mateo’s $13.75, it was a pretty good deal.

I figured that when I went into the theater, there would be an employee to check my ticket before I was allowed to get in. Instead, I was surprised to see that when I walked into the building and rode up the escalator, the lobby was basically empty.

There was a full bar and many couches and tables. The interior looked sleek and modern. With the tall windows showing the view outside, it would have been the perfect place just to sit down and eat. It may as well have been a restaurant.

I quickly ran into a problem, though. I couldn’t find where to check in my ticket. I almost went into the theater without checking in. Turns out, there are three small machines where you could go to redeem your ticket. I thought the whole process, while quick and easy, was a bit strange.

I wanted to buy some popcorn before the movie. I saw employees making popcorn and other movie theater snacks, but there was no window to purchase it. It felt like I was in some weird parallel universe as the employees were just doing their own thing instead of helping me get my popcorn.

I gave up as I was late to the movie and I wanted to watch it. When I went inside the auditorium to watch the film, no one checked my ticket. It posed the question, “If I were to just sit down without buying a ticket, would anyone catch me?” Maybe I just missed something, but I still don’t get how the theater would have caught me assuming I didn’t actually buy a ticket.

The seats were more luxurious than most theaters I have been to. There was also enough space in front of them to avoid the awkwardness of when you are walking in between the seats. Next to every suite, there was a small lamp and a menu. The menu had a much more expansive selection than any other theater I’ve been to. Some of the prices were outrageous (to be fair, that’s common with movie theater food), but others didn’t seem that bad. For example, their ½ pound burger was $13.95. Their M&M’s, on the other hand, were $6.50.

I ordered a small popcorn, which was $7.50. Their food service ended up being more annoying than helpful. Instead of buying it in person, there is a small “service” button on each of the chairs. When you press it, an employee will come and take your order. It was nice because I didn’t have to get up during the movie, but the whole process took longer than if I was just to get it myself. By the time my popcorn came, it wasn’t warm. It was at disappointing room temperature, which would have been avoided had I just got it myself. Also, I usually just get popcorn or other snacks before the movie, not during the movie, so I thought the whole process was redundant.

Another complaint I had was with the employees who were delivering the food. According to the San Mateo Cinépolis website, the food was supposed to be “delivered by stealthy ninja-like servers.” However, I found myself distracted by the employees constantly going back and forth to the movie-goers. I think the idea of service during a movie is a good one, but in practice, it is not really necessary.

Overall, my feelings toward the new theater are mixed. I like the spacious seats, cheap ticket prices, and beautiful interior. However, I didn’t like the food service because of how long it took and the distraction the employees posed.